Cervical Cancer Screening Using HPV Testing Alone: Are We There Yet?

By Martina McGrath, MD
July 18, 2018

Although the overall incidence of cervical cancer is decreasing, it is estimated that over 200,000 women are living with cervical cancer in the US, and it is expected to lead to over 4,000 deaths in 2018.1 Cervical cancer is predominantly caused by infection of the cervical mucosa with human papilloma virus (HPV), particularly by several pro-oncogenic subtypes. Multiple HPV genotypes can infect the genital tract mucosa, but types 16 and 18 are responsible for the majority of cervical cancers. HPV infection is highly prevalent in sexually active young woman, and the majority will clear the infection within 8–24 months.2 Although cleared, HPV infection can lie dormant for prolonged periods. It can recur and be detected again decades later, mandating the need for cervical screening throughout a patient’s lifetime.3 In addition, observational data indicates that the relative risk of abnormal cervical cytology is markedly increased in those with persistent HPV infection, particularly where infection is with a high-risk type of HPV.2 Continue reading “Cervical Cancer Screening Using HPV Testing Alone: Are We There Yet?”