New test for cervical cancer

20 December 2018
Presented by Georgia Mills.

Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers affecting young women, and it’s caused by a virus called Human Papilloma Virus, or HPV, which is spread through sexual contact. The virus causes the cells of the cervix to keeping growing excessively, which eventually damages their DNA, causing cancer. Testing for this cancer can be challenging: these days it involves using DNA tests to look for traces of the virus in a sample. But the viruses are very common, and only a small proportion of people carrying them will actually get cancer; so there are lots of false positives. Now researchers at Queen Mary University of London have found a way to tell who really is at risk, by pinpointing changes to a pattern of chemical markers, called epigenetic marks, that are present on our DNA. A person at risk of cancer develops characteristic changes to these marks, which study author Attila Lorincz can pick out, as he explained to Georgia Mills...

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