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Early Detection of Cervical Cancer

HPV Testing

About 75% of sexually active women will get a least one HPV infection in their lifetime. With HPV the primary cause of cervical cancer, the HPV test detects the presence of high-risk HPV strain(s).

How is the test performed?

Your healthcare provider will use a LifeLabs collection kit to take a sample of cervical cells for testing.

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The human papillomavirus, or HPV, is a group of over 100 related viruses which are primarily spread through sexual activity. Most adults will develop an HPV infection in their lifetime without knowing it as HPV often doesn’t have any symptoms. Frequently, the virus will clear in the same way as a common cold. High-risk HPV that doesn’t clear however is what can lead to different cancers, including cervical cancer in women.

An infection with high-risk HPV can cause cells to change or become abnormal. In the cervix, these changes can lead to a precancerous condition known as dysplasia. Dysplasia, if not treated, can lead to cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is one of the few cancers that can actually be prevented. Regular cervical screening can detect cell changes so you can prevent cervical cancer from developing.

Additional information can be found in our HPV test brochure here.

An HPV test involves your healthcare provider taking a small sample of cells from your cervix and sending them to LifeLabs for screening and testing. Here we look for the presence of HPV and then genotype it to see if the high-risk HPV commonly associated with cervical cancer is present.

While the process of obtaining the sample is similar to a Pap, the testing is different. A Pap test does not look directly for the HPV virus. A stand-alone Pap test may miss some abnormal cell growth or may not detect it early enough to prevent cervical cancer. Samples for a Pap and HPV test may be taken at the same time, but your healthcare provider must specifically order an HPV test.

If you are a woman, over the age of 30, and are sexually active, you should ask your healthcare provider about having HPV testing as part of your regular cervical screening.

Your healthcare provider may also order an HPV test to follow-up on an abnormal Pap and if you have:
  • atypical squamous cells – undetermined significance (ASC-US) and are 30 or older
  • low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (LSIL) and are 50 or older
  • been treated for high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (HSIL)

An HPV test is usually ordered as part of your cervical health screening. However, your healthcare provider may also recommend the test if you have:

  • abnormal Pap test results
  • previously been diagnosed or treated for pre-cancerous cells
  • a history of cervical cancer

You can order HPV testing here.

Talk to your healthcare provider about getting tested for HPV as part of your cervical screening.

Your healthcare provider will take a cervical sample in a similar manner as a Pap test, complete and sign the HPV requisition, and send it to LifeLabs for testing.

If you are currently living in British Columbia, your healthcare provider must order the HPV collection device directly from the LifeLabs BC courier department, before they can collect your sample. Talk to your healthcare provider to ensure they have devices on hand when you make your HPV collection appointment at their clinic. Your physician can find information on ordering supplies through our supplies portal. 

Test results will be provided directly to your healthcare provider for discussion with you. The report will indicate whether the cells were positive or negative for high-risk HPV.

Being HPV-positive does not mean you have cervical cancer. HPV testing is the first step to measure your level of risk of developing cervical cancer and to rule out high-risk HPV infections, so it’s important to get this test done as part of your regular cervical screening.

Persistent infection with Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the principal cause of cervical cancer and its precursor cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN). There are more than 118 different types of HPV and approximately 40 different HPVs that can infect the human anogenital mucosa. However, only a subset of these types is considered high-risk for the development of cervical cancer and its precursor lesions.

HPV testing at LifeLabs is done using Roche Cobas® HPV assay, which detects the presence of 14 high risk HPV types, and specifically identifies HPV16 and HPV18. The BD SurePath™ Pap collection devices are used to obtain the sample for Pap and HPV testing. These collection devices ensure an ideal amount of cervical cells are captured in the first collection, thereby enabling us to perform Pap and HPV tests on the same cervical sample.

Molecular testing for HPV can be used as a follow-up to abnormal changes detected in Pap tests of women 30 to 65 years of age. 

The BD SurePath™ Pap collection devices are used to obtain the sample for Pap and HPV testing. These collection devices ensure an ideal amount of cervical cells are captured in the first collection, thereby enabling us to perform Pap and HPV tests on the same cervical sample.

Information on ordering supplies for the HPV test in both BC and ON may be found in the healthcare provider supplies portal. HPV may not be listed directly on all regional forms. If it isn’t listed in your region simply add “HPV collection supplies” to the blank spaces left at the bottom of the form before faxing in your order.

The HPV test is currently an uninsured test. The cost is: $90

If the cervical sample has not yet been collected– Your patients can choose to pay for this test online on our website using their credit card by visiting our order now page.

If you have already collected the cervical sample– Your patient will be mailed a paper invoice for the cost of testing. Invoice payments can be made online by patients through our billing portal.

Patients are encouraged to check with their private healthcare insurer to see if coverage is provided.

Results will be available to you within two weeks.

We have a wealth of medical experts available to support you in interpreting test results.
Consults with our experts are available upon request. Request medical consultation.

Request more information

Healthcare providers need to collect the sample (before colposcopy if performed) and fill out a specialized requisition form before forwarding to LifeLabs for testing.

If your patient has already purchased the test through LifeLabs.com, please fill out the personalized requisition emailed to your patient at the time of purchase. If they haven’t made the payment online, please use the generic HPV requisition here:

The BD SurePath™ Pap collection devices are used to obtain the sample for Pap and HPV testing. These collection devices ensure an ideal amount of cervical cells are captured in the first collection, thereby enabling us to perform Pap and HPV tests on the same cervical sample.

For collection and handling instructions, refer to the test information directory, under HPV.       

Information on ordering supplies for the HPV test in both BC and ON may be found in the healthcare provider . HPV may not be listed directly on all regional forms. If it isn’t listed in your region simply add “HPV collection supplies” to the blank spaces left at the bottom of the form before faxing in your order.

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