Diagnostics play a crucial role in disease prevention. Let’s take two examples: diabetes and cervical cancer. Blood tests to determine glucose levels can detect high glucose values before diabetes develops. New testing technologies are also transforming HPV screening strategies as they have the potential to inform on the risk of developing cervical cancer. Scroll down to learn more about the value of diagnostics in aiding diabetes and cervical cancer prevention.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that each year 600,000 women get cervical cancer and 340,000 women die from it, making it one of the top most common cancer in women6. Although high-risk HPV infection can cause a proportion of cancers of the anus, vulva, vagina, penis and oropharynx7, it is linked to 99% of all cervical cancer cases.8
With proper vaccination of girls and boys who both contribute to spreading HPV, screening, and treatment, however, the elimination of cervical cancer is within reach. Significant strides have recently been made towards eliminating cervical cancer by focusing on the science behind human papillomavirus (HPV).
Starting in the 1940s, the Pap test revolutionised cervical cancer screening, slashing rates in countries using it by at least 65 percent. But certain countries may lack the resources, training and staff to implement and the Pap test sensitivity is relatively low compared to newer high precision screening technologies. The majority of disease burden is in low and middle income countries. In low- and middle-income countries, women are often diagnosed with cervical cancer at a more advanced stage, where the opportunity for cure is more challenging.9
Today, a new era of innovative technologies, including the use of biomarker-based testing, is transforming screening strategies, accelerating the shift towards more risk-based patient management.
Sophisticated next-generation molecular, cellular, biomarker, and tissue-based testing provides powerful information to healthcare professionals. They enable early detection of possible disease which can be easily treated and identification of specific HPV types. Digital image analysis tools that aid in standardizing diagnostic decisions have been embraced in some geographies and their importance in efficient clinical decision making will continue to increase. The goal, at each step, is to prioritize women's health, and reduce the potential for under- or over-treatment of patients based on inconclusive test results that do not allow for confident decision-making around next steps.
These new testing technologies support WHO’s goal of eliminating cervical cancer by implementing a vaccination, screening and targeted treatment strategy which could cut new cases of the disease by 40% and 5 million related deaths by 205010. The WHO now recommends HPV DNA testing for all women to detect high-risk strains of HPV which cause almost all cervical cancers. Global actions are urgently needed to achieve this goal.
Knowing the risk for cervical cancer, before it turns into something more serious can save lives. Danielle Sepulveres is the perfect illustration of this.
Worldwide, more than 463 million people have diabetes1. In 2019, an estimated 4.2 million deaths were directly caused by the disease and its secondary complications2. In addition to human suffering, the global economic burden of diabetes is expected to climb to an estimated US$ 845 billion by 2045. The so-called indirect cost of diabetes adds an additional 35% to the global healthcare expenditures associated with this condition.
Type 2 diabetes, which accounts for about 90% of cases, impairs the body in regulating and using glucose as a fuel. This chronic condition results in too much glucose circulating in the bloodstream. Eventually, high blood glucose levels can lead to disorders of the circulatory, nervous and immune systems. The good news, however, is that effective blood glucose management by frequent blood glucose monitoring, a healthy diet and regular activity to maintain a healthy weight as well as medication can reduce the risk of heart disease, eye disease, kidney disease and nerve disease by 40%3.
Screening to determine blood glucose levels is an important tool in prevention, and can be achieved through several types of blood tests. One blood test, the HbA1c test, reflects a person’s average blood glucose levels for the past two to three months. Another blood test determines how well a person’s body processes glucose. A third type of test – known as fasting blood glucose – can be done after a person has not had anything to eat or drink except water for a certain amount of time. Measuring blood glucose levels and treating those who have high blood glucose values with intensive lifestyle change programs may reduce their chances of ever developing diabetes, which can result in a longer, healthier life4.
As the HPV-vaccinated population continues to grow, it is becoming increasingly important to partner with healthcare providers to improve patient health by monitoring those at high risk of developing cervical cancer. To combat this challenge, labs depend on reliable, next-generation technologies that accommodate primary screening volumes and help protect women from developing cervical cancer.