Every year >500,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer globally - this disease is preventable. With a combination of vaccination and advances in screening, disease can be stopped before it even develops. We have the power, by helping to spread the word about the role of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) in the cause of cervical cancer, to protect women from this preventable disease.
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Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers in women worldwide. It starts in the cervix, located at the lower part of the uterus. When detected early, or in the pre-cancer stage, treatment can be highly successful. Persistent infection of certain high-risk types of the human papillomavirus (HPV) are known to be the primary cause of cervical cancer.
The Pap test has been in use for nearly 100 years. The Pap test looks for abnormal cells growing on the cervix that can be early signs of cancer. But research has shown that the Pap test can miss up to 1/3 of cervical cancers.
The HPV test checks for high-risk HPV infection, with a test which is very accurate. However, the simple detection of high-risk HPV is not enough to cause concern, because HPV is very common. Clinically validated HPV tests have been designed to detect when levels of high-risk HPV are high enough to put a woman at greater risk of developing cervical disease. Because modern HPV tests are automated, a trained specialist is not needed to visually search for abnormal cells which reduces human error. A negative HPV DNA test gives you greater reassurance you are not developing cervical cancer.
The Pap test looks for changes in cells before they develop into cancer. The HPV test looks for the presence of high-risk HPV which are known to cause about 99% of all cervical cancers. Hence, the HPV test can be a better predictor of your risk for cervical disease.
You and your healthcare provider should discuss what is right for you and how often you should be screened. Medical guidelines offer different ways that the HPV and Pap tests can be used depending on a number of factors such as the patient’s age and medical history. What is important to know is if you have already been tested for HPV, and when you should attend your regular screening exams.