For more than 60 years, the Pap smear has saved countless women by finding cervical cancer. But new studies released Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine suggest another test may be better.
It's called the DNA/HPV test. It actually goes one step further by predicting which cells are cancerous.
"The Pap plus the HPV, or just the HPV alone, picked up more, almost double as a matter of fact, the number of patients that just the Pap smear alone picked up." said Dr. Howard Jones of Vanderbilt University.
However, since the new test has more false positives, it is not intended to replace, but to supplement the traditional Pap smear.
The journal study suggests that if a patient's Pap smear and HPV/DNA test both come back negative, that patient would only have to be tested once every three years rather than every year, as is recommended now for Pap smears alone.