HPV, PCR Screening

International guidelines now show the best way to screen for cervical cancer risk is to test for HPV—which infects four out of five women and causes 99% of all cervical cancers.

HPV infection usually remains symptomless for many years. By the time any symptoms of cervical cancer develop, it’s often too late to treat it successfully.

  • Only 2/10 women have a life expectancy of longer than five years following diagnosis of late-stage cervical cancer.
  • Cervical cancer is highly preventable:
  • 500,000 women from around the world are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year.
  • Seven Vietnamese women die every day from cervical cancer.
  • Cervical cancer starts to change cells on the cervix months or years before cancer develops.
  • The pre-cancer changes are usually symptomless but can be detected by smear testing.
  • Screening is the most important step in identifying HPV and preventing cervical cancer.

Early detection of high-risk types of HPV, as well as vaccination against the virus, are key to preventing the majority of cervical cancers from ever occurring.

Screening tests are performed to prevent cancerous cells from developing on the cervix:

  • The Pap test looks for changes in cells on the cervix that could turn into cancer if left untreated.
  • The human papillomavirus (HPV) test looks for high-risk HPV types 16 and 18 as well as detecting 12 other high-risk types that cause changes in the cervical cells.

We recommend that women take both screening tests to provide the best protection against cervical cancer.

Family Medical Practice offers the HPV screening test as one of the most accurate indicators of HPV infection available.

  • A positive test result indicates an increased cancer risk.
  • The test is 92% accurate in detecting the presence of HPV, compared to a 50–70% accuracy in detecting abnormal cells in the Pap smear test.
  • An HPV infection does not imply infidelity.
  • Most HPV infections can be prevented by vaccinating girls before they become sexually active.

Studies in more than 47,000 women showed that 1/10 of women who tested positive for HPV 16 or 18 had evidence of cervical pre-cancer, even though their Pap test result was normal.

Our doctors have received extensive training in HPV testing, covering sample collection, sensitivity and specificity of the test, and recommended follow-ups for all result types.