New Pap Smear Available

by Staff

Student Health Services will offer a new test to detect cervicalcancer next semester.

The test, called the ThinPrep Pap Test, is thought to be a moreeffective tool in detecting cancer, according to the Food and DrugAdministration

According to research conducted by the Cytyc Corporation, theconventional Pap smears can have an error rate of up to 50 percent.Cytyc Corporation designs and develops new technology intended torefine sampling techniques.

As of next semester, San Diego State Health Services will offerthe option to students.

“It represents better technology,” said SHS Dr. Rory Brening. “Itis the increase in sensitivity that is attractive about it.”

The ThinPrep test utilizes a different way to collect a sample ofcells inside a women’s cervix. It uses a fluid-based transport topreserve cells and a special processor to eliminate debris anddistribute a representative portion of cells on a slide in a uniform,even layer.

Traditional Pap smears may check a non-representative portion ofthe cells when they are smeared onto the slide, according to thecorporation. More than 80 percent of those collected samples arediscarded. This becomes a problem because missing cells and obscuringelements &– such as blood, mucus and unimportant debris — limitaccurate diagnosis.

The sample is immediately preserved and sent to a lab. Whenreceived by the lab, a filtration process disperses randomized cells.Therefore, a representative thin layer of cells is clear of obscuringelements and there is an increase in the opportunity to detect earlysigns of abnormality.

“I will definitely get the ThinPrep,” said English sophomoreMelissa Thompson. “I had no idea that the other test was soinaccurate.”

However, Brening said the conventional Pap smear is stilleffective; ThinPrep just represents better technology. Theconventional Pap smear will still pick up most problematic cases, butthe Thin Prep will detect them earlier.

“Girls who can’t afford it shouldn’t be too bothered by the factthat they are not getting the more expensive test,” Brening said.

He said it takes a long time to develop cervical cancer, which canbe caused by contracting Human Papilloma Virus, a sexuallytransmitted disease. Doctors have plenty of time to catch theinfection using the conventional method, he said.

HPV is thought to infect as many as 45 percent of collegestudents. It can be contracted via sexual contact.

“It is the most common thing we see here as far as a sexuallytransmitted infection,” Brening said.

Female students should begin getting Pap smears at age 18 or whenthey become sexually active. Pap smears should be performed once ayear.

The price of the ThinPrep test is higher than the conventionalmethod. At SHS, the ThinPrep will cost $29 compared to $15 for theconventional method. However, brening said this cost is significantlylower than off campus sites where prices will start at $45.