Dr. Diane Harper - How Are Human Papillomaviruses (HPV) Infections Detected?

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HPV infections are detected specifically by a DNA test. It use the cells that come from the surface of your cervix in order to find those cells that are releasing the HPV particles from the skin and it looks that the DNA and it matches that DNA up with specific types of HPV so that we know whether it is the cancerous type of HPV or not.

The second method that we use for cervical cancer detection is the pap smear and that looks at whole cells and those cells are able to give doctors some idea of whether the virus has actually caused damage to those cells. If the virus has caused damage to the cells, then we worry about it and we bring the woman in for further work up.

When we put the combination of tests together, what we're able to do is to find those women whose, pap-sneers are normal but whose HPV high risk types are positive that allows us to follow them a little more closely and make sure that if they develop a pre-cancer region that we find it early and treat it.