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The risk of overreliance on standalone HPV screenings

When you choose a primary care physician in Providence County and then follow his or her recommended schedule of preventative treatments and visits, the expectation may be that you will be able to avoid certain illnesses and conditions. Perhaps nowhere is this more true than with your obstetrics and gynecology provider. Starting in your teens, you typically begin the necessary-yet-sometimes-uncomfortable process of receiving a routine pap smear. The purpose of this checkup is to help you avoid conditions such as cervical cancer. Yet as some of the women that we here at DeLuca and Weizenbaum have worked with in past may attest to, cervical cancer screenings are not infallible.

Recent years have seen the introduction of a standalone test for the human papillomavirus. HPV is the virus responsible for almost all forms of cervical cancer. Given this link, it may easy to assume that this HPV test might be a better alternative than a pap smear. However, recent research suggests that may not be the case at all.

Study information shared by Medscape showed that in a study group containing 526 women confirmed to have cervical cancer, almost 19 percent of those diagnosed has HPV results that were negative. Researchers speculate that the reason for this high rate of negative tests was due to the fact that HPV screenings were designed to look for precancerous lesions as opposed to actual cancer.

The same study showed when HPV screening was done in conjunction with pap testing, only 5.5 percent of patients later diagnosed with cancer produced negative results. This may imply that while your OB/GYN may only recommend an HPV screening, you may still want to insist on having a pap smear, as well.

More information on avoiding a cervical cancer misdiagnosis can found here on our site.  

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