The HPV test is a powerful tool for stratifying borderline Pap results, allowing physicians to identify the 10% of patients with borderline abnormal cells. It can help your physician determine if you are at risk of progressing to cervical cancer.
A Pap smear typically consists of a pathologist reviewing the shape of the cells under a microscope. Prior to turning into a cancer, cells undergo predictable changes to their DNA that are not visible through a microscope unless special stains are applied to the cells.
HPV offers different markers, such as p16, Ki-67, TERC, and cMyc. This allows pathologists to see if the cells are converting from normal cells to cancer cells.
Just because you might have high-risk HPV doesn’t mean that you will get cancer. In fact, only a small percentage of high-risk HPV-positive patients will get cervical cancer. Without the markers, it’s impossible to immediately assess your risk of cervical cancer, leaving you uncertain of whether you require aggressive monitoring or should just wait and let the infection resolve on its own. The additional markers allow your physician to confidently determine if you truly require more aggressive treatment options.
Early detection can add years to your life. Cervical cancer is one of the most avoidable and curable cancers there is when detected at an early stage.
More than 90% of women who are diagnosed with cervical cancer early, before it spreads, survive cervical cancer five years and beyond. Those whose cancers are detected at the very latest stages have a much lower survival rate.
The time required depends upon your specific test results and condition. Your physician will outline the most logical steps needed to prevent the progression of any cervical disease.