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The Role of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) Testing in Cervical Cancer Screening

II Mbachu, OS Umeononihu

Abstract


Background: Cervical cancer is the most studied gynaecologic cancer with a clear natural history. Screening for the premalignant lesions has reduced the mortality from cervical cancer mainly in developed countries. Cancer of the cervix is regarded as a sexually transmitted disease because of its association with human papilloma virus. The backbone of screening has been pap smear. The variability of the sensitivity and specificity of Pap smear has lead to development of other screening tests including HPV testing.
Aim: To review the role of human papilloma virus testing in cervical cancer screening.
Methodology: A medline and other internet search engines were accessed to retrieve online publications on human papilloma virus and cervical cancer. Textbooks and other hard copies of publications on human papilloma virus and cervical cancer were also accessed and information extracted.
Result: HPV testing can be used either alone or as an adjunct screening test for pre-malignant lesions of the cervix. It can also be used in monitoring of treatment. It provides an explorable option in low resource countries with high disease burden and no organized screening programme.
Conclusion: Development of strategies that will incooperate HPV testing will reduce the false positive results from pap smear and increase the uptake of cervical cancer screening in developed countries. The extent of the role will also be determined by the existing infrastructure.

Key words: Cervical cancer, screening, human papilloma
virus, testing.



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