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Study: Mailing HPV Tests Could Help Rural Ohioans Prevent Cancer

The James Cancer Hospital at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

A new study from Ohio State examined if mailing human papillomavirus, or HPV, tests to women increases screening rates. Screening women for HPV can help prevent cervical cancer.

Researchers sent the at-home tests to women in Appalachian Ohio who were considered underscreened, meaning they haven’t had any preventative testing for cervical cancer in the last three years.

“We found that about 80 percent of women who were mailed a test to do at home completed the test and mailed it back to us, which was about twice as many women as we were expecting,” says Paul Reiter, a professor at Ohio State’s school of public health.

He says the results indicate that mail in tests could be a viable way to reach women who are geographically isolated and may not have easy access to health care.

"This was a small pilot study that was really just an early step in this line of work to tell us if women are interested in using these tests and if they are, are they able to obtain adequate samples by themselves at home," Reiter says.

Of the women who sent back their tests, about a quarter tested positive for a cancer-causing type of HPV.