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Thursday, April 9, 2015

How Accurate is A Single Pap Test

Pap tests are a screening test for cervical cancer, as are HPV (Human Papillomavirus) tests, so the accuracy of a single pap is not really as helpful as having both a pap and an HPV test. Whenever you are getting screened, those at risk for abnormal tests are probably going to get the most accurate testing. If you want to know how accurate your test is, there are a lot of considerations, and basically you and your gyno will have to answer this  together. It depends if you are talking a single pap test, ever, or just one pap in a series of pat tests. Basically the pap test reduces the rate of cervical cancer by about 75%, by alerting testing in the precancerous, non-invasive stage. A pap can be fairly insensitive at picking up what is wrong on any single test, inaccuracy can be as high as missing 10 to 15% of cases. HPV is a DNA virus that infects skin and mucosal tissues and causes cell changes that lead to what is known as cell proliferation (overgrowth) and conversion to neoplastic changes (premalignant and malignant). HPV is the source of virtually all of cervical cancer. If we add tests for the most cancer causing HPV we can almost double the rate of pick up of the abnormal pap that are missed by the single screen. More precise tests are coming, you may want to know, do you have HPV16, 18, 45, or perhaps do you have p16NK4a34. Now it will be awhile until we can tell you the latter.

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