Understanding Abnormal Pap Smear Test and HPV

If you receive positive Pap smear and HPV screening results, you either have early cell changes or human papillomavirus infections. In most cases, early cell changes can be monitored using ultrasound Buckhead to inform the right treatment regime to prevent the development of cervical cancer. The following information will help you learn more about abnormal cervical cancer screening results and follow-up tests and treatments.

What is HPV?

Human papillomaviruses are a group of viruses, some of which are commonly spread through sexual intercourse. There are over 150 different types of HPV; the high-risk HPV is responsible for nearly all cervical cancer cases. It can also cause other cancers, including vaginal cancer, penile cancer, anal cancer, vulvar cancer, and oropharyngeal cancer.

The difference between HPV test and Pap test

The HPV test and the Pap test are two different tests that screen for cervical cancer; an HPV test specifically checks cells with high-risk HPV infection. On the other hand, a Pap test or Pap smear looks for any abnormal changes in cervical cells that could turn into cervical cancer if left untreated. A Pap test can also detect cancer cells; other times, physicians use a Pap to find other conditions that are not cancer, like inflammation and infection.

Screening means checking for signs of disease before symptoms are present. For example, cervical cancer screening checks for any abnormalities in cervical cells that may develop into a disease. Routine cancer screening is essential for women even if they feel healthy and have no symptoms. The screening will help you find changes in cervical changes and receive follow-up tests or treatments you need to stay healthy.

What happens during an HPV or Pap test?

Usually, healthcare providers perform a cancer screening during a pelvic exam which takes only a few minutes. During an HPV or Pap test, you will lie on an examination table with your knees bent. You will place your feet on supports at the end of the table, allowing your healthcare provider to access your vagina easily. Using a speculum, your healthcare provider gently opens your vagina to see the cervix. Next, the doctor uses a soft narrow brush to collect cell samples from your cervix and take them to the lab for examination.

What does a positive HPV test mean after years of negative tests?

A woman can have a positive HPV test result after several negative HPV tests. It is most likely a new infection if you have new or multiple sexual partners. However, if you don’t have a sexual partner or are in a monogamous relationship, it is not necessarily a sign that your partner has another sexual partner. An HPV infection can become active after several years of dormancy. Other viruses that have the same behavior include the virus that causes chickenpox; it can reactivate later in life to cause shingles.

There is no way to tell if a new positive HPV test result is a reactivation of a previous infection or a sign of a new infection. It is also unclear whether a reactivated HPV infection carries the same risk of cervical cancer as a new HPV infection.

Book an appointment with your healthcare provider at Ideal Gynecology, LLC for your routine Pap test.