Getting tested

Regular testing is your best protection against cervical cancer. Testing for HPV allows you to know your risk of developing cervical cancer and enables your doctor to manage and prevent the disease from developing. Early detection of cervical cancer in the pre-cancer stage can lead to more effective treatment, and ultimately save lives.

There are typically two different types of tests that can detect your risk of cervical cancer
– a Pap smear and a HPV test.

Who should be screened?

Screening is for all women who have been sexually active , even once, regardless of:

Previous HPV vaccinations

Previous HPV vaccinations

Family history of cancer, or history of pregnancy and childbirth

Family history of cancer, or history of pregnancy and childbirth

Type of contraception used

Type of contraception used

Types of cervical cancer screening tests

Pap smear

Pap smear

Benefits of the test

  • A Pap smear identifies changes that have already occurred in the cells of the cervix. The cells are then viewed under a microscope to find out if they are abnormal.6 Changes in the cells of the cervix can take years to develop.

Facts of the test

  • In most countries, it is recommended to go for a Pap smear every one to three years.

  • Sample collection only takes a few minutes and should not cause any pain.

  • Studies have shown that up to one in three women who had been told they were well after receiving a Pap smear actually had cervical cancer.12, 13

How is it done?

  • A Pap smear is a procedure to collect cells from the surface of the cervix and vagina.

  • A swab is used to collect cells from the cervix and vagina.

  • The cells are then viewed under a microscope to find out if they are abnormal.6

High-risk HPV Test

High-risk HPV test

Benefits of the test

  • The high-risk HPV test looks for the presence of the high-risk HPV virus before changes occur in the cells of the cervix, and before cancer develops.

Facts of the test

  • While some HPV tests just tell you if you do or don’t have HPV, the high-risk HPV test identifies HPV 16 and 18 as well which together are responsible for about 70% of all cases of cervical cancer.11

  • If tested negative for high-risk HPV, testing can be done every three to five years.

How is it done?

  • A high-risk HPV test is a test that is done in the same way as a Pap smear.

  • Cells are collected from the cervix and DNA from the cells is checked to look for the presence of 14 high-risk HPV strains that could cause cervical cancer.6

  • A high-risk HPV test can be done with or separately from a Pap smear.

  • Sample collection only takes a few minutes and should not cause any pain.

Speak with your doctor today about getting a high-risk HPV test. Getting tested for HPV is not just about knowing if you are at risk of cervical cancer, it’s also to find out that you’re not at risk.

Do I need a high-risk HPV test?

Women 30 - 65 years of age who have been sexually active should be tested for high-risk HPV strains

Women 30 - 65 years of age who have been sexually active should be tested for high-risk HPV strains. HPV is normally cleared by the body’s natural immune system for women under the age of 30.

o Testing for the 14 high-risk HPV strains, which makes up 70% of all cervical cancer.

Testing for the 14 high-risk HPV strains, which makes up 70% of all cervical cancer, allows women to know their risk of developing cervical cancer and enables their doctor to manage and prevent the disease from developing. Early detection of cervical cancer in the pre-cancer stage can lead to more effective treatment and ultimately save lives.

What do my results mean?

Test positive for HPV

If I test positive for HPV, does that mean I have cervical cancer?

Don’t panic, it does not mean that you have cervical cancer. Your healthcare professional will advise on the next steps; further investigation may be required.

Most HPV infections have no symptoms, are harmless and are cleared by the body’s natural immune system. It is important to understand that testing positive for HPV does not mean you definitely have cervical cancer. However, it means that you are at a higher risk of developing the disease.

Test negative for HPV

What does it mean if I test negative for HPV?

If you test negative for HPV, it means you are at low risk of developing cervical cancer.9

Overall, a negative high-risk HPV test means that you are very unlikely to develop cervical cancer over the next five years.14 Depending on the recommendations from your doctor, you should return for re-testing in three to five years.

Prevention – HPV vaccine

Although vaccination may reduce the chances of contracting HPV, it does not prevent all types of HPV, nor does it protect you if the virus was pre-existing before vaccination.

Professional guidelines recommend regular screening no matter if you are vaccinated or not.15