It's Better to Know
A Test to Assess Risk of Cervical Cancer
LifeLabs Medical Laboratory Services offers a test to determine risk of Cervical Cancer by screening for high risk Human Papillomavirus (HPV), the virus that causes Cervical Cancer. Ask your doctor if it is right for you. (Download and print the brochure.)
What is HPV?
HPV, or human papillomavirus, is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the world. There are more than 100 different types of HPV that may cause a variety of diseases ranging from warts to cancer.
What about HPV and Cancer?
Certain HPV types, called high-risk, are associated with the development of cervical cancer. While most HPV infections go away on their own, they sometimes persist. Persistent infections with high-risk HPV are associated with an increased risk of developing cervical cancer.
How widespread is HPV infection?
HPV is so common that most people will get it at some point in their lives; however, the viral infection usually clears up by itself and causes no signs or symptoms at all.
Is HPV infection a necessary precursor to cervical cancer?
Yes. HPV can be detected in virtually all cases of cervical cancer. It is generally accepted that the virus is necessary for development of cancer, and that all cases of this cancer can be attributed to HPV infection. If someone tests negative for high-risk HPV, it is unlikely they will develop cervical cancer unless they subsequently acquire an infection with high-risk HPV
About the HPV Test
Why is it important to be tested for HPV infection?
Cervical cancer is strongly associated with high-risk HPV infection. Identifying the virus can shed light on the cause of abnormal cells seen during a Pap test and help identify patients who may require further tests. A positive result for any of the high-risk types can be closely monitored for any pre-cancerous conditions. A negative test for high-risk HPV can provide peace of mind that the patient is at lower risk for developing cervical cancer.
How is the HPV test done?
Cells are removed from the cervix in the same way they are removed for a Pap test. They are collected into a liquid and sent to LifeLabs to look for HPV DNA (HPV genes).
How does HPV testing differ from Pap testing?
The Pap test or Pap smear, looks for abnormal cells in the cervix that could lead to cancer. The HPV test looks for the virus types that could cause cervical cancer. The test is a sensitive, non-invasive method that can find 13 types of high-risk HPV that can cause cervical cancer even before any changes can be seen in the cells of the cervix.
What are the advantages of HPV testing over Pap testing?
HPV testing is the most sensitive indicator of cervical cancer risk, up to 40% more sensitive than the traditional Pap test. The traditional Pap test is extremely valuable, and it has had a dramatic effect on reducing cervical cancer. However, recent studies show that HPV testing is even more sensitive than the traditional Pap test for identification of women at risk for the development of cervical cancer. Studies show that the HPV test complements the Pap test, and the two tests used together are highly effective for detection of cervical cancer.
What will I learn from this test?
A LifeLabs HPV test will tell you whether you have been infected with a virus that can cause cervical cancer. If your test is negative for high-risk HPV, your chances of developing cervical cancer are low. If you test positive for high-risk HPV, you are at increased risk for development of cervical cancer. Please consult with your healthcare provider who can advise you on the most appropriate course of action.
If I find out I have HPV, can it be treated?
There is no specific treatment for HPV infection. However, there are steps you can take, including having regular Pap tests, to reduce your risk of developing cervical cancer. Please discuss with your healthcare provider.
Are there specific guidelines for when HPV testing is recommended?
Yes. For women over the age of 30, HPV testing is recommended in the event of an abnormal Pap test to confirm an uncertain result. HPV testing is generally not recommended for women under 30 because the HPV infection may go away on its own.
How do I get tested?
Visit your healthcare provider to discuss the HPV test. If the HPV test is right for you, your doctor will take a sample of cervical cells for testing.
Is there a charge for the test?
The HPV test is not covered by the medical services plan (MSP) or Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP), but may be covered by your extended health plan. Contact us to find out the current fee for this test.
How do I pay for the service?
Your Visa or MasterCard information will be obtained at the time of sample collection. You will be charged for the test before the sample is processed.
How do I get my results and how long will it take?
Your results will be available within 2 weeks of sample collection. We recommend that you make an appointment with your doctor to review them.
For more information please contact LifeLabs: