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Prevent Cervical Cancer - Ask About The HPV Test

By August 30, 2010 - 3:18pm

Article provided by QIAGEN

Taking the HPV test is one of the steps you can take to prevent cervical cancer or catch it in early stages. And most doctors will honor your request. If not, remember you are the person ultimately responsible for your health. Here’s a few scenarios you may run into when considering the HPV test.

Your doctors may not automatically order the HPV test for you. He or she may be unaware of approval of the HPV test for routine screening. Some doctors and nurses are not aware that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the HPV test for use along with the Pap for routine screening of women age 30 years and older. Some still believe that the HPV test should only be given to women if their Pap test results are unclear (called an ASC-US Pap). Still others simply aren’t familiar with the data supporting the value of the HPV test for routine screening. Medical practice takes a while to change. You can share with your doctor or nurse the recent publication on HPV and HPV testing issued by the American Association of Reproductive Health Professionals.

Your doctor may think the Pap is good enough. Other healthcare professionals may actually recommend against routine HPV testing because they believe that although the Pap May not be perfect, it is good enough. Respond that you know the Pap test catches many women with pre-cancerous cells, but that you would feel more confident if you took the additional step in receiving the HPV test. You may want to refer your doctor or nurse to the April 2006 issue of International Journal of Cancer (“Overview of the European North American studies on HPV testing in primary cervical cancer screening”). This analysis of 11 studies involving more than 60,000 women documented that the HPV test is a more sensitive tool for cervical cancer screening than the Pap alone.

Your healthcare provider may worry that you will be unnecessarily anxious or alarmed if you find out you have a high-risk (potentially cancer-causing) type of the virus. After all, most women fight off the infection before it causes any problems.

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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