Cervical cell discovery could lead to new cancer breakthrough

Scientists believe they may have identified which cervical cells are most susceptible to the human papillomavirus (HPV).

The international team led by researchers at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston in the US found that a specific genetic marker is associated with the cells most likely to turn cancerous after exposure to HPV.

Lead investigator Dr Christopher Crum said the work had "discovered a discrete population of cells that are located in a specific area of the cervix that could be responsible for most, if not all, of HPV-associated cervical cancers".

The scientists also hypothesised that the removal of these cells could potentially reduce the risk of cervical cancer.

According to the World Health Organization, cervical cancer is the most common form of the disease among sub-Saharan African women, as the combination of deficient screening and early sexual activity leaves them at a heightened risk.