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Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women after breast cancer.

14 high risk HPV genotypes contribute to the majority of cervical cancer cases. The main reasons for the higher incidence and mortality in developing countries are lack of awareness of cervical cancer among the population, lack of screening programs, and limited access to health care services.

According to data from WHO, the number of women at risk for cervical cancer is over 2 billion, primarily in developing worlds. The number of cervical cancer rates and deaths is projected to almost double by 2025.

What is HPV?

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a small, non-enveloped, double-stranded DNA virus (approximately 8,000 base pairs) that replicates in the nucleus of squamous epithelial cells and induces hyperproliferative lesions. HPV infections are among the most common sexually transmitted infections. 
Most HPV infections have a benign clinical consequence and are cleared spontaneously. However, persistent HPV infection may result in progression to cervical cancer. More than one hundred different HPV genotypes have been identified, among which over forty infect mucosal and genital epithelia. Genital HPV genotypes are generally classified into high risk (HR) and low risk (LR) groups based on their carcinogenic potential. 

HR HPV genotypes are associated with invasive cervical cancer or its immediate precursor (high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion, cervical intraepithelial neoplasia or carcinoma in situ), whereas LR HPV genotypes include benign lesion and are not associated with cervical cancer. Approximately 70% of invasive cervical cancer cases worldwide are caused by HPV 16 and HPV 18.

Infection by HPV 16 or HPV 18 is associated with higher risk of disease progression compared to other HR HPV genotypes. Compared with cervical screening methods identifying cytological abnormalities, molecular tests that specifically detect the presence of HR HPV DNA in cervical cells can potentially increase sensitivity and cost-effectiveness of cervical cancer screening programs. Furthermore, HPV DNA tests can be effectively used in triaging patients with equivocal cytology, in post-therapeutic follow-up and in monitoring vaccine efficacy. 

The RealTime High Risk (HR) HPV DNA assay is a qualitative in vitro test that amplifies and detects HR HPV DNA in cervical cells collected in liquid media. The detection of fourteen HR HPV genotypes (HPV 16, 18, 31, 33, 35, 39, 45, 51, 52, 56, 58, 59, 66, and 68) is achieved through a primer mix targeting a conserved region of HPV genomes and single-stranded DNA probes. The assay can differentiate between HPV 16, HPV 18 and non-HPV 16/18 genotypes (Other HR HPV).

What is the cervix?

The cervix is the opening of the uterus (womb). It is part of a woman’s reproductive system.

What causes cervical cancer?

A virus, called Human Papillomavirus (HPV) can cause normal cells on your cervix to turn abnormal. Over many years, abnormal cells can turn into cancer if they are not found and treated by your doctor.

How could I get HPV?

HPV is passed on through genital or skin-to-skin contact. It often does not cause symptoms until it is advanced. All women who ever had sex are at risk for cervical cancer. So, it is important to get screened even when you feel healthy.

How can I prevent cervical cancer?

You can prevent cervical cancer with regular screening tests, like the Pap test and the HPV DNA test. Screening tests can find early problems before they become cancer. That way, problems can be found and removed before they ever become cancer.

The Pap and HPV DNA tests look for different things:

The Pap Test: checks your cervix for abnormal cells that could turn into cervical cancer

The HPV DNA Test: checks your cervix for the virus (HPV) that can cause abnormal cells and cervical cancers.

* HPV DNA Test Information

The RealTime High Risk HPV DNA assay is a qualitative in vitro test for the detection of 14 High Risk HPV genotypes (16, 18, 31, 33, 35, 39, 45, 51, 52, 56, 58, 59, 66, and 68) and identification of HPV genotypes 16 and 18 in cervical cells collected in liquid media.

What are the benefits of Pap & HPV DNA co-testing?

Study showing women who had both pap smear and HPV DNA negative result has the lowest risk of developing cervical cancer.

What is the best time to be screened for cervical cancer?

The best time for a woman to have cervical screening is between 10 and 20 days after the first day of her last menstrual period. For about 2 days before the test, she should avoid sexual intercourse, douching, or using vaginal medicines or spermicidal foams, creams, or jellies.

Do women who have been vaccinated against HPVs still need to be screened for cervical cancer?

Yes. Because current HPV vaccines do not protect against all HPV types that cause cervical cancer, it is important for vaccinated women to continue to undergo routine cervical cancer screening.
Please view / download pdf version of New Cervical Cancer Screening Strategy: Combined Pap Test and HPV DNA Test

Updated on March 6, 2018

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