What Does the HPV Test Check?
The HPV test is a screening for high-risk strains of human papillomavirus that might cause cancer. It is not a test if a person has cervical cancer. Certain types of HPV put a person at risk of developing cancer which is why early detection and monitoring is important.
HPV does not always cause cervical cancer. There are 100 strains of the virus and most of them do not lead to more serious conditions.
In young people under the age of 30, HPV is very common and screening for the virus will often garner a positive result. However, it is usually not a cause for concern as the immune system can clear it up.
Most HPV infections clear up after a year or two and do not cause any harm but for women over the age of 30, certain strains of HPV might be risky. If a person tests positive for any of the high-risk strains, they will be monitored and scheduled for a follow up with their doctor.
What Does the Pap Smear Check?
The Pap Smear, also known as Papanicolaou test, is a procedure done to check if there are any abnormal cell changes in the cervix. The test checks for cancer or any changes in the cells of the cervix that might eventually lead to cancer.
Abnormal findings don’t necessarily mean that the person has cancer. A pap smear may also detect inflammation and other infections.
A Pap Smear can also be done together with a pelvic exam. During a pelvic exam, the doctor will examine the parts of the patient’s reproductive system including the vagina, fallopian tubes, and ovaries.