Quest Diagnostics has announced the availability of a new laboratory test that identifies molecular changes to cervical cells that increase the likelihood a woman may develop cervical cancer. The test is designed to help physicians identify women at increased risk of developing malignancy, unless treated, after receiving unclear results for cervical cancer risk from standard screening tests.
The Quest Diagnostics Cervical Cancer TERC test is based on the human telomerase RNA component (TERC) gene marker under a nonexclusive patent license from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Research by NIH has shown that the TERC gene is amplified, indicated by an abnormal number of copies of the gene on chromosome arm 3q, in the precursor cells of cervical cancer and therefore may be useful for risk stratification in Papanicolaou (Pap) screening.
In the United States, women are screened for cervical cancer using Pap and/or human papillomavirus (HPV) tests. Neither provides definitive results for risk for cervical cancer. Pap tests identify and categorize cellular changes according to risk they will become malignant. HPV tests identify infection with HPV, a virus that causes cervical cancer in some women but is cleared by the immune system in others. The new test is adjunct to conventional Pap and HPV tests, and is performed on residual samples from Pap tests. It detects abnormal changes to the TERC gene and chromosome 3 to provide a risk assessment of progression to cervical cancer in women who receive indeterminate Pap and/or HPV test results. It may be particularly helpful in evaluating women whose Pap test shows mild cellular abnormalities. Learn more from Quest Diagnostics.