BYLINE: Michele W. Sequeira, MS, MBA, MWC

Newswise — Human papillomaviruses (HPVs) cause several cancers in both men and women, including 91% of cervical cancers, 91% of anal cancers and 75% of vaginal cancers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most of these cancers are caused by just a handful of HPV virus types.

In February, Becton, Dickinson and Company announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had given market approval for the BD Onclarity™ HPV Assay for use with the ThinPrep® Pap Test.

The Onclarity™ HPV Assay detects 14 high-risk HPV virus types. It reports individual results for six of the 14 high-risk types and three groups of results for the remaining eight high-risk types.

“The addition of the ThinPrep® Pap Test for use with this HPV test now enables clinicians to offer more women a risk-based approach to cervical cancer prevention,” said Cosette Wheeler, PhD, who led the study at The University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center.

When compared to reporting high-risk HPV types as a pool, the added clarity of reporting individual HPV types enables health care providers to make more accurate clinical decisions when assessing a woman’s risk of cervical precancer and cancer.

To generate the data for the FDA’s approval, Wheeler and her team worked with Becton Dickinson and the New Mexico HPV Pap Registry to conduct one of the largest real-world evidence studies of its kind. The registry is a surveillance program designed and maintained to capture health service delivery across the continuum of cervical cancer preventive care throughout the state. Importantly, the program identifies underserved areas and populations in New Mexico in need of improved cancer prevention.

“Cervical cancer is preventable," Wheeler said. "Along with HPV vaccination, improvements in HPV testing helps New Mexicans and brings the U.S. closer to its goals of eliminating HPV-related cancers.”

Cosette Wheeler, PhD, is a Distinguished Professor of Pathology and Obstetrics & Gynecology at The University of New Mexico Health Sciences. She is also director of the UNM Center for HPV Prevention and serves as a special investigator at the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center.

UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center

The University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center is the Official Cancer Center of New Mexico and the only National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center in a 500-mile radius.

Its more than 120 board-certified oncology specialty physicians include cancer surgeons in every specialty (abdominal, thoracic, bone and soft tissue, neurosurgery, genitourinary, gynecology, and head and neck cancers), adult and pediatric hematologists/medical oncologists, gynecologic oncologists, and radiation oncologists. They, along with more than 600 other cancer healthcare professionals (nurses, pharmacists, nutritionists, navigators, psychologists and social workers), provide treatment to 65% of New Mexico's cancer patients from all across the state and partner with community health systems statewide to provide cancer care closer to home. They treated approximately 14,000 patients in about 100,000 ambulatory clinic visits in addition to in-patient hospitalizations at UNM Hospital.

A total of nearly 400 patients participated in cancer clinical trials testing new cancer treatments that include tests of novel cancer prevention strategies and cancer genome sequencing.

The more than 100 cancer research scientists affiliated with the UNMCCC were awarded $35.7 million in federal and private grants and contracts for cancer research projects. Since 2015, they have published nearly 1000 manuscripts, and promoting economic development, they filed 136 new patents and launched 10 new biotechnology start-up companies.

Finally, the physicians, scientists and staff have provided education and training experiences to more than 500 high school, undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral fellowship students in cancer research and cancer health care delivery.