Cancer screening tampon can check for 14 strains of HPV (2024)

Women can conduct their own smear tests from home thanks to a new device which could boost screening rates.

The world's first tampon test for the human papillomavirus (HPV) is launching in the UK this week.

It is hoped the DIY screening will allow those who are too embarrassed or fear cervical screening, to get tested for the leading cause of cervical cancer.

The HPV screen is made by gynaecological health startup Daye, which has already created a similar product to test for STIs including chlamydia and gonorrhoea.

Available to order for £69 online, it tests for 14 different strains of the virus, which are behind nearly all cases of cervical cancer.

It is hoped the DIY screening will allow those who are too embarrassed or fear cervical screening, to get tested for the leading cause of cervical cancer .

NHS cervical screening data shows uptake has steadily fallen over time from a high of just under 76 per cent in 2011

Cervical cancer symptoms to look out for include unusual vagin*l bleeding, pain during sex and lower back or pelvic pain

Inserted like a traditional tampon, it must be worn for at least 20 minutes to generate a sample.

This is then sent to a UK laboratory for testing, with results returned within ten days.

If women test positive for a high-risk HPV, Daye advises them to take the results to their GP where they may then be referred for further testing or a colposcopy, on the NHS.

The launch, which follows a similar test for sexually transmitted infections, comes after the NHS pledged to eliminate cervical cancer by 2040.


Cervical cancer affects the lining of the lower part of womb.

The most common symptom is unusual bleeding, such as between periods, during sex or after the menopause, but other signs can include:

  • Pain during sex
  • vagin*l discharge that smells
  • Pain in the pelvis

Causes can include:

  • Age - more than half of sufferers are under 45
  • HPV infection - which affects most people at some point in their lives
  • Smoking - responsible for 21 per cent of cases
  • Contraceptive pill - linked to 10 per cent of cases
  • Having children
  • Family history of cervical or other types of cancer, like vagin*

Source: Cancer Research UK

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Valentina Milanova, founder of Daye, said she hoped this latest innovation would assist in getting hard-to-reach patients.

She said: 'Eliminating cervical cancer by 2040 requires a joined-up approach of vaccination, screening and testing, and we hope to encourage more women to proactively test for HPV.

'By utilising the familiar tampon, this hassle-free HPV testing kit is extremely easy and comfortable to use, and we hope this will lead to more patients taking control over their long-term health and fertility.'

HPV infections are also incredibly common, with around eight in 10 people becoming infected at least once in their lifetime.

Most strains do not present with any symptoms but can result in health problems from cancer to fertility issues.

About 3,300 people still receive a cervical cancer diagnosis every year in the UK with nearly all cases — 99.8 per cent — caused by persistent high-risk HPV infections.

The introduction of a national vaccination programme in 2008 and a national screening programme have both helped rates fall by more than quarter since the 1990s.

Despite being one of the deadliest female cancers, latest UK screening data shows only two thirds (68.7 per cent) of the 4.62 million women eligible for screening are up to date.

As part of its pledge to increase uptake, the NHS is keen to introduce at-home tests, which should help reach those who do not usual attend screening appointments.

While not yet available on the NHS, Daye's at-home HPV screen is part of its Accelerator for Innovation programme, which supports promising developments which could one-day change practice.

A spokeswoman from Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust said eight out of ten people will carry the HPV virus at some point in their lives and of those, nine out of ten people clear it within 2 years.

She said: 'Along with HPV vaccination, cervical screening (smear test) is one of our best tools for preventing cervical cancer and we encourage women to attend their free NHS cervical screening appointment when invited.

'However, we understand that attending cervical screening can be challenging for some women and we support the development and clinical trialling of some new self-sampling techniques within the NHS program.

'It is important to remember that HPV home-test kits are not currently part of the NHS Cervical Screening Programme, so even if someone discovers that they have HPV with a home-test kit, they will not be able to have an earlier cervical screening appointment if they are not due to have one.'

Cancer screening tampon can check for 14 strains of HPV (2024)
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