What Is The Difference Between Pap Testing And HPV Testing?
Over 13,000 women each year are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the United States. However, cervical cancers are one of the most preventable cancers. Cervical cancer can be prevented with early detection and treatment of abnormal cell changes that happen in the cervix before cancer develops.
Cells in the cervix can change into abnormal cells because of the human papillomavirus, or HPV. Traditionally, a Pap test has been used to detect abnormal cells early. Today, modern technology allows women 30 and over to take a simple HPV test to identify the presence of HPV that may lead to cervical cancer.
HPV tests are designed to find high-risk types of HPV that are associated with cervical cancer.
From age 30, women have a few options available for screening:
- A Pap test every three years
- Co-testing a Pap and HPV test every five years
- An HPV test every five years
Depending on results, your healthcare provider may recommend additional screenings.
If you have had regular screenings up until 65 and your healthcare provider does not believe you are at risk you can stop screening. Also, if you have had a hysterectomy you do not need to be screened.
Let’s talk about the two options
A Pap tests looks for changes in the cells of the cervix that are abnormal.
When a female goes to take a Pap test, she is placed on an exam table and a speculum is inserted into the vagina to open it. With the speculum the healthcare provider can properly view the cervix and upper vagina. The medical professional then uses a device called a broom to collect cells. The collected cells are then sent to a lab where they are evaluated under a microscope.
Pap tests looks for any sign of abnormal or precancerous changes in the cells on the cervix. If the Pap test shows changes, this is typically called cervical dysplasia.
Here are some other common terms used:
- Abnormal cell changes
- SIL (squamous intraepithelial lesions)
- CIN (cervical intraepithelial neoplasia)
- Precancerous cells changes
- “Warts” on cervix
All of these terms listed mean basically the same thing, that abnormalities were found. Typically, these abnormal cell changes are due to HPV. There are multiple types of HPV that can be causing these abnormalities and many of these types are considered “high-risk”. “High-risk” means they have been linked to cervical cancer.
However, just because a woman has cervical dysplasia, does not mean she will get cervical cancer.
HPV testing can find high-risks types of HPV that are commonly found in cervical cancers. The presence of any type of HPV in a woman for an extended period of time can lead to cell changes that may need to be treated to avoid cancer.
myLAB Box’s at home HPV test is available for women 30+ and allows you to screen for 14 of the highest-risk types of HPV.
HPV tests detect DNA or RNA from different types of HPV. Our test utilizes amplification of target DNA by polymerase chain reaction and nucleic acid hybridization for the detection of 14 types of HPV.
Our tests included a prepaid shipping label, vaginal swab and detailed instructions to guide you through the process.
A negative HPV tests means you don’t have a type of HPV related to cervical cancer.
What does this all mean?
It is very important to stay on top of your sexual health! Regular screenings for women over 30 can help you avoid cervical cancer. myLAB Box allows you to test conveniently and privately in the comfort of your own home.