Can a positive test for HPV mean that I ‘ll get cervical cancer?

February 3, 2018

Question: Can a positive test for HPV mean I will get cervical cancer?

It is probably a good thing HPV testing is becoming more prevalent. However, there are now many girls who are making an effort to understand what it means to become positive for HPV. Unsurprisingly, given the way the media discusses sciences, they are often very concerned about the identification. They’re concerned that a positive test for HPV usually means they’re certainly likely to develop cervical cancer.

But, that’s not true in any way. While it’s possible that as many as 5 percent of all cancers are associated with HPV infection, not many people with HPV will be diagnosed with cancer.

Answer: Being positive for HPV does not mean that cancer is on its way.

HPV disease is responsible for most, if not all, cervical cancer cases. It’s also in charge of genital warts and other kinds of cancer in both women and men. But most women who are infected with HPV will never develop cervical cancer. In reality, over 70 percent of women who receive a positive test for HPV will clear the infection and test negative again within a couple of years. Of the remaining 30 percent that are HPV positive, most will eventually clear their infections. Only a small percentage of the remainder will go on to create a significant abnormal Pap smear result, let alone cervical cancer. Some factors that impact how long a woman remains infected with HPV include:

  • The sort of HPV she is infected with,
  • whether she is about oral meds,
  • whether she smokes.

A positive test for HPV mainly indicates that you should be conscientious about routine Pap smears. These screen for cervical dysplasia and early signs of cervical cancer. Keeping up to date about the screening is crucial as your risk is greater than women who have not been infected with HPV.

However, only a small fraction of even women with persistent HPV will ever develop cervical cancer. Furthermore, with frequent screening and prompt treatment, most severe consequences of colorectal cancer can be prevented.

If you’re positive for HPV, it does indicate a need for followup. That’s especially true if that positive HPV test happens in combination with an abnormal Pap smear. But, it doesn’t indicate a need for panic. It might not even mean that you need a Pap smear more often than annually. Your overall risk of getting cervical or other HPV cancers is significantly greater than someone without an HPV infection, but it’s still rather low.

What About the HPV Vaccine?

There are currently multiple HPV vaccines available on the marketplace. Completing the entire vaccine series is 1 way to significantly lower your risk of ever becoming infected with HPV. Although not one of the vaccines protect against most type of HPV, they really do concentrate on the ones that most commonly lead to cancer in research populations. Furthermore, vaccine efficacy has been demonstrated to last for 10 years or more, particularly when the vaccine is given to younger girls.