CBC recently reported HPV testing should replace PAP smears for Cervical cancer screening. Want to know why? Read on…
Cervical cancer is a preventable cancer because PAP smears can detect abnormal cell changes in the cervix long before they become cancerous. HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) is a virus which infects cells of the cervix. HPV causes the cells to change and become abnormal, untreated these cellular changes can lead to cervical cancer.
HPV infections are very common in young women, under the age of 25, and frequently result in abnormal PAP results. Most HPV infections are cleared by the immune system making cervical cancer relatively rare in women under the age of 25. Compared with older women (above 30) who are not likely to clear an HPV infection, beginning pap smears at the age of 25 means fewer un-necessary treatments in women under the age of 25.
A PAP smear will tell us there are cervical changes but it will not tell us if HPV is present. Since HPV is the primary cause of cervical changes isn’t it important to determine if its present? Yes! 90% of women under the age of 25 will clear an HPV on their own; but 10% of these women will not. The presence of HPV can lead to abnormal cell changes and eventual cervical cancer.
But you don’t have to worry yet. Starting at age 25 HPV testing should be included with your PAP smear to determine if you fall into this 10% category. HPV testing can be used in combination with PAP smears to improve the effectiveness of screening for cervical cancer. If your HPV screen and PAP smear are both negative then you are completely safe following the new guidelines laid out by the BC cancer agency. A positive HPV screen changes your risk and you need to be screened with a PAP smear more frequently, as well as treat the HPV virus.
Integrative health clinic is set up to do both HPV testing and PAP smears, please ask your naturopathic doctor any questions you may have.
Give us a call at 604.888.8325
The link to the CBC article: Click Here
By. Dr. Karen McGee, ND