I went for a Pap smear today, and his office is using a new test in addition to the traditional slide preparation. It's called PapSure and it's a speculoscopic exam. Insurance doesn't cover it, so it cost me $40 to get it in addition to the Pap smear.
I asked him why he was using it, and he said that for many years scientists have been trying to figure out why Pap smears don't detect 20 percent of cervical cancers, no matter how often they are performed. Apparently it's been discovered is that some of the viruses that cause cervical cancer change cells under the skin rather than on the skin, and these abnormal cells don't get sampled during a Pap smear. The speculoscopy detects this kind of abnormal cell.
I also asked him about the cervical cancer / HPV vaccine that is being developed. He said that there are 9 kinds of HPV that can cause cervical cancer, and the vaccine addresses only the most aggressive kind. But once the vaccine for that kind is finished, it will be easier to develop vaccines for the rest of them. He predicted that vaccination would be able to prevent against all the kinds of HPV in around 20 years.
So maybe I can look forward to an old age free of @#$#$@ Pap smears.