What is HPV Screening?

The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infects the skin cells and causes cells to begin to change. Screening for HPV is done through the use of a pap smear as some forms of HPV (namely 16 and 18) have been known to increase the risk of developing cervical cancer. The most common cause of abnormal pap smear results is the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), however it is vital to do further tests to rule out cancer as the cause of abnormal cells.

What is the aim of a pap smear?

The aim is to test for abnormalities and infections of the uterus and cervix. The pap smear results will be able to indicate whether the cells are normal, abnormal or severely abnormal. Abnormal results will require further diagnostic tests with your gynaecologist to find the cause of abnormal cells and rule out cervical cancer.

What will happen if abnormal results are found?

If the results from your pap smear have been found abnormal, depending on the level of abnormality, Dr Makhubo may feel the need to either repeat the test in 6 months, or to investigate further using other diagnostic procedures.

Diagnostic procedures may be used to further investigate, such as:

  • A colposcopy in which a magnifying lens is used to examine the cervix.
  • A biopsy of cervical cells may be taken to examine the cells under a microscope.
  • The removal of abnormal cells may be done to prevent abnormal cells from developing into cancerous cells.

Once further investigation has been done, Dr Makhubo will be able to discuss the treatment options if a mild infection or HPV is present. If test results indicate the presence of cancerous cells, she refer you to an oncologist who specializes in cancers of the cervix, endometrial or womb, such as a gynaecology oncologist, for further treatment.