UNDERSTANDING FOLLOW-UP & TREATMENT
If Human Papillomavirus (HPV) was detected in your cervical screening test sample, you require follow up to check that there are no problematic cells present in the cervix - this will involve a colposcopy procedure.
What is a colposcopy?
Colposcopy is like having a pap smear performed. It is a procedure done to magnify the view of the cervix to check for any cell abnormalities. This examination allows the doctor to inspect the cervix in greater detail to look for signs of abnormal cells growing. Colposcopy procedure is diagnostic (to view the changes in cervical and vaginal tissues) and treatment (to clear the HPV infection prone area) will be provided if needed.
Does a HPV positive result mean that I have cervical cancer?
No! Being positive for HPV does not mean that you have cervical cancer. HPV infection is a very common infection. While it is responsible for most, if not all, cervical cancer cases, most women who are infected with HPV will never develop cervical cancer. In fact, more than 70% of women who receive a positive test for HPV will eventually clear the infection and test negative again within two years. Of the remaining 30% who are HPV positive, most will eventually clear their infections.
If I am tested positive for HPV, is a follow up really necessary?
Yes, further examination (colposcopy) is usually advised. Keeping up to date on screening is important because your risk is higher than women who have a negative HPV test result. However, only a small fraction of women with persistent HPV will ever develop cervical cancer. Furthermore, with regular screening and prompt treatment, cervical cancer can be prevented.
What would happen if I don't go for the colposcopy procedure?
It all depends on your cervix. If there are abnormal cells present, then it could develop into cervical cancer. If there are no abnormal cells, then nothing will happen. But the only way to know what is going on in your cervix is to attend your colposcopy appointment.
How is the procedure performed?
As with a pelvic examination, you will lie on your back with your feet raised and placed on foot rests for support. A speculum will be used to hold apart the vaginal walls so that the inside of the vagina and the cervix can be seen. The colposcope is placed just outside the opening of your vagina. A mild solution will be applied to your cervix and vagina with a cotton swab or cotton ball. This liquid makes abnormal areas on the cervix easier to be seen. You may feel slight discomfort.
Image of a colposcopy procedure. From Google Images.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What happens if I get a positive HPV (HPV detected) test result?
Please call the number provided in your result SMS text for follow-up advice.
My recent pap smear is normal. Why am I getting an abnormal result for this test?
The HPV test is a very sensitive test to identify risk of developing abnormal changes on the cervix. A positive HPV test may occur in the absence of abnormal cells as yet.
Should I be worried?
No, a positive HPV test means that the test has detected the virus and that you should have further examination to examine your cervix using a special device called a colposcope. Almost always these changes are minor changes to the lining of the cervix and not anything serious (such as cervical cancer). Colposcopy is done as an outpatient procedure and takes only 10-15 minutes.
We would like to emphasize that HPV positive does not indicate cancer.
Please schedule a follow-up appointment by contacting the number provided
in your results SMS text for follow-up advice.