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British startup launches HPV test tampons to fight cervical cancer




British startup launches HPV test tampons to fight cervical cancer

Pap smears are an uncomfortable, uncomfortable and even painful process for many women. But they are an essential tool in the fight against cervical cancer.

A London-based startup thinks tampons could make testing much more bearable.

Cervical cancer is a devastating disease that affects hundreds of thousands of women every year. It is estimated that this will have claimed approximately 350,000 lives worldwide by 2022. the World Health Organization.

But it can be prevented with vaccines and cured if caught early.

Like dozens of other countries, Britain wants to eradicate the disease, with leaders pledging in November to eradicate it by 2040.

To do this, the country will need to improve screening rates. In 2022-23, only 68.7% of women in England were aware of their smear tests, up from 69.9% the year before.

Countries must screen 70% of women at age 35 and again at age 45 – and vaccinate a large proportion of girls and provide prompt treatment – to eradicate cervical cancer, the World Health Organization said. states.

What causes cervical cancer?

The disease is almost always caused by an infection with the human papillomavirus.

Usually passed through sexual contact, HPV is very common.

In most cases it causes no symptoms and goes away on its own. In fact, most adults will contract some type of HPV at some point, but many will never know they had it.

But persistent cases of certain types of HPV can sometimes cause cervical cancer.

How does screening work?

Many countries – including England – carry out so-called primary HPV tests for cervical cancer screening.

A swab is taken regularly and the sample is tested for high-risk HPV.

If high-risk HPV is detected, the sample is then tested for cell changes. If any changes occur, these will be further monitored, as certain changes can develop into cancer.

Gynae-health startup Daye thinks its tampon-based HPV tests could support testing in Britain

Why tampons?

Pap smears (simply called ‘cervical smears’ in the UK) are usually carried out by a doctor and usually require the use of a speculum. Tampons, on the other hand, are familiar to many women and can be self-administered at home.

Users then send their sample to a laboratory for testing before receiving their results digitally.

A 2017 survey by British charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust found that more than a third of young women felt embarrassed about getting tested because body image problems. In fact, 35% said they would postpone their appointment out of embarrassment.

Researchers who published a small study using Daye’s tampons suggested last year that self-testing options could help women who are embarrassed to attend in-person screening appointments.

Although the tampons themselves are not currently being used by the national screening program, Daye says users who test positive for high-risk HPV can take their results to their GP, who can refer them for colposcopy or further public health testing .

The diagnostic tampons are part of an entrepreneurship program commissioned by the English healthcare system.

The National Health Service Innovation Accelerator supports the development of solutions that improve patient outcomes and reduce costs for the NHS.

While it doesn’t guarantee adoption across the healthcare system, it’s intended to help entrepreneurs understand it how their products can be used by the NHS and support the development of relationships within the service.

The company told me that this approval “underlines the clinical validity and potential of Daye’s product to transform cervical cancer screening.”

The company, which already offers tampon tests for sexually transmitted diseases in addition to a range of vaginal wellness products, was founded by Valentina Milanova, who was included in last year’s European edition of the 30 Under 30 list.

She said in a statement: “Eradicating cervical cancer by 2040 will require a joined-up approach to vaccination, screening and testing, and we hope to encourage more women and those assigned at birth to proactively test for HPV.”