Cervical screening involving a test for the human papillomavirus (HPV) does not better identify cancer risks, specialists have claimed.
This is despite the fact that the majority of cervical cancer cases are caused by the HPV infection, which is sexually-transmitted.
The NHS has been piloting the idea of routinely adding HPV tests to cervical screening in laboratories across the UK.
For smear results showing "borderline" or mild abnormalities - suggesting cells could develop to cancer at some point in the future - an HPV test has been carried out on their sample.
However, new research says adding the HPV test to smear tests does not help doctors identify which women are at risk of cancer or the best form of follow-up treatment.
Around eight out of 10 sexually-active women will contract HPV at some point in their lives and the infection clears itself up within two years in about 80% of cases. However, women are at high risk of re-infection.
Dr Maggie Cruickshank, from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Aberdeen and one of the authors of the study, said: "Of the women who actually needed treatment for pre-cancerous disease over the course of the study, 91 out of 393 (23%) had a negative HPV test at the start of the trial.
"For younger women, HPV testing after a low grade smear could lead to unnecessary investigations and intervention."
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