Kaiser Permanente Northern California To Offer Members DNA Test for Cervical Cancer
Kaiser Permanente in Northern California will become the first health system in the nation to provide women a routine DNA test to screen for cervical cancer risk, officials of the Oakland-based HMO announced Tuesday, the Sacramento Bee reports. The test will screen for human papilloma virus, a sexually transmitted disease that is responsible for most cervical cancer cases, according to the Bee. The test previously has been offered to Kaiser patients with abnormal Pap smear results (Griffith, Sacramento Bee, 1/7). According to Dr. Ruth Shaber, director of women's health services for Kaiser's Northern California region, the test now will be offered to all women ages 30 to 64 in conjunction with a traditional Pap smear, the San Jose Mercury News reports (Feder Ostrov, San Jose Mercury News, 1/7). Dr. Walter Kinney, a gynecological cancer specialist for Kaiser Permanente in Sacramento, said that the test would be available beginning in the spring. More than 780,000 Kaiser members in the region are eligible for the test. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists and the American Cancer Society endorse the HPV test.
Dr. George Sawaya, a doctor at the University of California-San Francisco who worked on recent Pap smear guidelines, said that Kaiser's new process "seems appropriate" but added that the cost effectiveness needs to be tested, the Bee reports. Kinney predicted that the test would result in fewer biopsies and surgeries that often accompany abnormal Pap smear results. Shaber said that the HMO might make HPV screening the primary test for cervical cancer, reserving Pap smears for confirmation of HPV results. Kinney said that women would still need to undergo annual checkups (Sacramento Bee, 1/7).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.