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HPV -between cervical cancer, tests and vaccines

Updated: Aug 31, 2021

HPV- Human Papilloma Virus is known to be the No.1 cause of cervical cancer. It is also connected to vulvar cancer, vaginal cancer, anal caner, penile cancer, and various oral cancers. There is a world wide trend of vaccination as well as progress in early detection tests.

HPV- Human Papilloma Virus

HPV is a double stranded virus that is spread by sexual contact. A very high percentage of sexually active men and women get infected with HPV at some point of their lives. In most cases, the body's immune system will get rid of it by up to 2 years. There are more than 100 substypes of HPV. Some might cause warts, others cause abnormal cells disorders that could develope into cancer. HPV is found in mucosal areas, the sexual and oral tracts. Using condoms while performing sexual relations provides only partial protection, because there can still be contact of the area of the testicle and vulva.

HPV subtypes are devided to 3 categories:

  • High risk

  • Potentially high risk

  • low risk

Low risk HPV subtypes are: HPV16, HPV18, HPV31, HPV33, HPV35, HPV39, HPV45, HPV51, HPV52, HPV56, HPV58, HPV59, HPV68, HPV73, and HPV82.

Potentially high risk HPV subtypes are: HPV26, HPV53, and HPV66,

High risk HPV subtypes are: HPV6, HPV11, HPV40, HPV42, HPV43, HPV44, HPV54, HPV61, HPV70, HPV72, HPV81, and CP6108 (multiple infection).

Low risk types are usually connected to genital warts. Potentially high risk and high risk are connected to precancerous changes in the cells that could develop into cancer.

In 2006 the first vaccine for HPV was introduced in the USA. It protects agains HPV16 and HPV18, the subtypes that are linked to 70% of cervical cancer cases. SInce then more vaccines have been admitted and more are in progress, trying to create a vaccine that protects against more subtypes. May countries have admitted vaccination in regular health care, begining with vaccinating 14 year old girls and boys.

The recommendations for early detection of cervical cancer is to get screened on a regular basis, even for women who have been vaccinated,

Cervical cancer is a slow growing cancer, and early detection is crucial.

HPV screening

The traditional screeing for early detection of cervical cancer is the PAP test. A swab taken from the cervix that is sent to a lab. The smear is processed and analyzed to detect changes in the cells.

The next step in early detection of cervical cancer is Thinprep tests. The swab is put in a liquid tube and the cells are seperated from other particles before being processed and examined.

At present day, more national health cares are providing HPV detections tests that identify presence of HPV DNA and usually specify the subtype. If HPV is detected, a pap test usually is also performed, to understand the state of the cervical cells.

If a woman is detected with cell changes, or with high risk HPV or both, or if there is an ingoing discomfort or bleeding, it is recommended to perform further tests, such a colposcopy. Regular cervical screeining is recommended in all countries and can save lives,


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