WASHINGTON (AP) _ Women may start getting checked for cervical cancer and common sexually transmitted diseases at the same time now that the government has ruled the ThinPrep Pap test also can screen for chlamydia and gonorrhea.
The Food and Drug Administration approval comes a year after federal health officials recommended routine screening of all sexually active young women for chlamydia, the most common bacterial sexually spread disease.
ThinPrep, a fairly new type of Pap smear used to detect cervical cancer, already had been cleared to detect the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus that causes most cervical cancer.
The new approvals mean with one swab into the vagina, doctors have a way to check for four different diseases, said FDA reviewer Kathleen Whitaker. ``It makes it easier.''
Most women have no initial symptoms of chlamydia or gonorrhea. The diseases, if untreated, can cause chronic pelvic pain, infertility and other serious problems. Screening is not widespread because it has often required a fairly difficult lab method of growing bacteria.
Recently the FDA approved a genetic test that detects traces of chlamydia or gonorrhea. With ThinPrep, doctors place a cervical swab into a preservative solution that lets them use the same sample to check for cancer and to do the genetic infection testing.