Preventing HPV and HPV-related cancers depends heavily on:

  • Educating young men and women about contraception and safe sex practices

  • Vaccination!

    • Protects against HPV types 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58

    • Young men and women (9-18) to prevent spread of HPV

    • Age ranges have been extended by the FDA ​to 45 years of age for both sexes if unvaccinated
  • Regular testing for pre-cancers before they turn into invasive cancer is so important:

    • Papanicolaou's (Pap) test, also called a smear test or Pap smear​ is a swab to collect cells from the cervix to analyze for cervical dysplasia, or abnormally growing cervical cells associated with HPV related pre-cancers​

    • The current HPV tests​




​Diagnosis of cervical cell abnormalities usually starts with the Pap test. If the test returns positive for abnormal cell growth a doctor will choose from a number of pathways.

  • Biopsy- small 1mm samples of tissue taken from various locations on the cervix using forceps​​

  • Colposcopy- looking at the cervix with a microscope, sometimes combined with taking a biopsy

    • Microscope positioned outside the vagina with a with a light to view the cervix at high magnification

    • May use acetic acid (vinegar solution) to dehydrate bad cells and view changes

    • Yearly testing schedule to follow until normal results are achieved, then returns to 3 year

  • Monitoring- patients under 30 years of age with low-grade cells are often deferred to a yearly testing schedule until tests come back normal

Lab results from these tests can indicate whether or not cancerous growths are present. A cancer diagnosis leads to a lot more questions... Read more.


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