HPV & Cervical Cancer
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a group of viruses that are extremely common worldwide.
- There are more than 100 types of HPV, of which at least 13 are cancer-causing (also known as high risk type).
- HPV is mainly transmitted through sexual contact and most people are infected with HPV shortly after the onset of sexual activity.
- Cervical cancer is caused by sexually acquired infection with certain types of HPV.
- Two HPV types (16 and 18) cause 70% of cervical cancers and precancerous cervical lesions.
- There is also evidence linking HPV with cancers of the anus, vulva, vagina and penis.
Pap Smear vs HPV testing?
Cervical cancer screening is an essential part of a woman’s routine health care. It is a way to detect abnormal cervical cells, including precancerous cervical lesions, as well as early cervical cancers. Routine cervical screening has been shown to greatly reduce both the number of new cervical cancers diagnosed each year and deaths from the disease. Cervical cancer screening includes two types of screening tests:
1. Pap Smear
- cytology-based screening
- to detect abnormal cells that may develop into cancer if left untreated or identifies most abnormal cells before they become cancer.
2. HPV testing
- is used to look for the presence of high-risk HPV types in cervical cells.
- detect HPV infections that cause cell abnormalities, Most tests detect the DNA of high-risk HPV, although one test detects the RNA of high-risk HPV.
HPV self-sampling is an alternative screening tool for cervical cancer. It enables women to take a self-collected cervico-vaginal sample at home for HPV testing.
To overcome the barriers to Pap smear, HPV self-sampling kit is a reliable screening tool. It is home-based, easy to perform, convenient and reliable. It also improves screening participation by under-screened women.
According to local study in Hong Kong, over 50% of women stated a preference for HPV self-sampling as a future cervical screening tool, particularly those with no history of Pap smear.