Researchers developed a self-sampling kit for a cervical screening program aimed at 65- to 69-year-old women in Denmark.
HPV tests for women over the age of 65 could help prevent cervical cancer, suggests a new study.
The HPV screening checks if a woman has human papillomavirus (HPV) and can detect abnormal and potentially cancerous cells.
The check is offered to all women aged between 25 and 64 in the UK.
During the screening, a small sample of cells is taken from the cervix and sent for testing.
HPV is a common group of viruses that often do not cause a problem, but some types could cause cancer, making the test vital in cervical cancer prevention.
However, many women over 65-years-old have never had an HPV test.
The new study included all 65- to 69-year-old women in Denmark who had no record of a cervical cancer screening in the last five and a half years and no record of an HPV test at ages 60 to 64.
Denmark has a free-of-charge cervical cancer screening program aimed at women up to age 64.
The team invited just over 11,000 eligible women residing in one region of Denmark to participate in HPV-based cervical cancer screenings.
These women could either book an appointment at a GP or order a vaginal self-sampling kit.
They then invited just over 33,000 extra women in the four remaining regions of Denmark to be part of a control group.
These women did not receive a screening invitation but had the opportunity to have an opportunistic cervical cytology sample collected for whatever reason.
Among all participants, rates of diagnosed cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) grade two or worse (CIN2+) were tracked for at least 13 months.
Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia is often caused by specific types of HPV. While it is not cancer it has the potential to become cancer and spread to nearby tissue.
Out of the women who had the test, just under 7,000 of them, 62.2 percent, were screened within 12 months.
In the control group, only 2.2 per cent had a cervical cytology collected.
The rate of CIN2+ detection was 3.9 cases per 1,000 eligible women in the intervention group compared to 0.3 cases per 1,000 eligible women in the control group.
The study also found that women who have been insufficiently screened at age 50-64 had higher chance of having HPV than sufficiently screened women.
They also tended to have more CIN2+ lesions.
Insufficiently screened women were more likely to request vaginal self-sampling, suggesting that this type of screening might be ideal for the older population.
Produced in association with SWNS Talker