HPV Testing for Cervical Cancer Clarified

HPV Testing for Cervical Cancer Clarified

The human papilloma virus is the most commonly acquired sexually transmitted infection.

Scientists determined that HPV can cause certain types of cancer including cervical, anal and penile cancer. Cervical is the most common type caused by HPV. Now a new report has changed when and why women should get an HPV screening.

According to these new guidelines, HPV DNA can be substitute for a pap smear for cervical cancer screening. HPV testing should begin at age 25 and be conducted every three years, so long as the patient remains HPV-free. Strains 16 or 18 are the most common cause of cervical cancer. 70% of cervical cancer cases are due to these two types.

Any patient who tests positive for either should undergo colposcopy or a pap smear. Women should still undergo a pap smear periodically starting at age 21, same as the current recommendation. Though for years an HPV test has been recommended in conjunction with a pap smear, this is the first time an HPV test alone has been recommended.

Lots of evidence came to support this conclusion. One reason is studies have shown that the results of an HPV test are more easily reproduced than that of a pap smear. It also is better at detecting pre-cancerous lesions. In fact, every study available worldwide has shown that the HPV DNA test was significantly more effective than a pap smear. Also, a pap smear may show a false-negative.

With an HPV test, the chance that a woman will develop cervical cancer within the next three to five years is miniscule. The reason for these guidelines is to help physicians include primary HPV DNA testing into their practices, particularly gynecologists. 11 clinical studies were scoured to come up with the new guidelines. They were published in three peer-reviewed journals Gynecologic Oncology, the Journal of Lower Genital Tract Disease, and Obstetrics and Gynecology.

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