Women across England are set to benefit from a more accurate cervical cancer test, aiming to identify the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), an infection that is known to trigger the development of cervical cancer.

According to Cancer Research, cervical cancer screening currently saves around 4,500 lives every year in the UK but until now, women aged 25 to 64 were only tested for HPV if abnormal cells were detected after a smear test.

However, following a successful pilot programme conducted by NHS England, doctors now believe HPV screening in the first instance will help identify 600 more cases of cervical cancer every year.

HPV is a common infection and usually clears up without medication or treatment. It can be contracted during sex and close skin-to-skin contact. Eight out of 10 people in the UK will be affected by the virus at some point in their lives.

Gwen Kirby-Dent, senior clinical negligence and serious injury solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors, said: “It is very encouraging to see that improvements to the way we screen for cervical cancer are to be implemented across England.

“If the new testing method helps ensure that more women are diagnosed with cervical diseases early on, it should help decrease the number of misdiagnosed cases and the delayed diagnosis of cancer.

“Although it is in its early stages, we’re urging NHS boards in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to follow those in England and introduce improved screening services so that the lives of women across the UK can be saved.”