Is There a Test for HPV that Leads to Cervical Cancer?

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Ask the experts

What is the HPV test for cancer of the cervix?

Doctor's response:

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in March, 1999 approved a DNA-based test for the human papillomavirus (HPV) which plays a role in cervical cancer.

The HPV test can detect about 90-95% of cervical cancer cases, according to Digene, the company that manufactures the test.

The HPV test is not likely to replace the Pap smear as a screening test for cervical cancer. The HPV test is designed as a followup test to the Pap smear.

The high degree of accuracy of the HPV test, it is hoped, may reduce over-treatment of women with suspicious Pap smears due to conditions other than cancer of the cervix.

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Reviewed on 1/11/2018