HVP Testing for Cervical Cancer

The government is in the process of introducing HPV testing with cervical smears in specific instances. HPV subtypes can be identified by their specific DNA, particularly those responsible for the majority of cervical cancers

The test is performed on cervical smear samples as ‘triage’ of low grade anomalies (borderline or mild dyskaryosis). Low grade cervical smear abnormalities regress (disappear) in the majority of cases but it is believed that the minority that progress to high grade disease are more likely to test positive to high risk HPV strains. This will enable closer surveillance of high risk women and less intense surveillance of those at low risk.

The other indication for HPV testing is as a ‘test of cure’ after treatment for high grade pre-cancerous cells (CIN2 & CIN3). If the first smear taken at 6 months after treatment is negative to high risk HPV sub-types then fewer smears will be necessary than the current recommendation for annual smears for 10 years.