WOMEN in the Portsmouth area will now be tested to find lower grades of cervical cancer sooner.
The new test detects the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which is a common infection in both men and women.
The primary care trust cluster Ship, which covers Portsmouth and Hampshire, say there are more than 100 types of HPVs.
While many are harmless, some can develop and are associated with cervical cancer.
Cervical screening is offered to women aged 25 to 64 years, every three to five years.
Under new guidelines, when women go for a smear test, they will also have a sample taken for HPV.
If a virus that could lead to cervical cancer is found, then women will be referred for treatment as soon as possible.
Dr Jenifer Smith, director of public health for Ship, welcomed the move.
She said: ‘The main benefit to introducing this additional testing of selected screening samples is we can intervene sooner where women are at high risk of developing cervical cancer.
‘This will reduce anxiety generated by repeated testing of those for whom this is not necessary.’
For more information visit cancerscreening.nhs.uk