An S5 methylation test detected 100% of grade 2 cervical intraepithelial neoplasms or worse, compared to a 50% detection rate for Pap or human papillomavirus (HPV) tests, according to the results of a recent study reported in the International Journal of Cancer.

Researchers screened 15,744 Canadian women aged 25–65 years. The epigenetic test detected all 8 cases of early-stage cervical cancers, including adenocarcinomas that are difficult to detect with other tests, years before they would have become symptomatic, according to the researchers.

Epigenetic changes may be a more important factor than DNA mutations in malignancies such as cervical cancer and this study showed a highly significant increased trend with disease severity, the researchers noted.