Cervical Cancer Testing: HPV Monitoring

Most cases of cervical cancer are caused by an infection involving Human Papillomavirus (HPV). There are many types of HPV. While some HPV types cause few or no health problems, other types can cause cervical cancer.

HPV tests check for DNA, or the genetic material, of HPV. The test identifies the presence of certain HPV viruses that can cause changes in the cervix. In some cases, these changes cause few or no problems and disappear without treatment. In other cases, they can, over time, lead to cervical cancer.

HPV is a sexually transmitted disease. In recent years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved new vaccines that help protect women against infection with certain high-risk HPV viruses. As no vaccine is foolproof, medical guidelines recommend that all women be tested with Pap and HPV tests, as clinically indicated, regardless of whether or not they have been vaccinated.