Results from your HPV test will come back as either positive or negative.
- Positive HPV test. A positive test result means that you have a type of HPV that's linked to cervical cancer. It doesn't mean that you have cervical cancer now, but it's a warning sign that cervical cancer could develop in the future. Your doctor will probably recommend a follow-up test in six months to a year to see if the infection has cleared or to check for signs of cervical cancer.
- Negative HPV test. A negative test result means that you don't have any of the types of HPV that cause cervical cancer.
Depending on your test results, your doctor may recommend one of the following as a next step:
May. 15, 2012
- Normal monitoring. If you're over age 30, your HPV test is negative and your Pap test normal, you'll follow the generally recommended schedule for repeat testing in three years.
- Colposcopy. In this follow-up procedure, your doctor uses a special magnifying lens (colposcope) to more closely examine your cervix.
- Biopsy. In this procedure, sometimes done in conjunction with colposcopy, your doctor takes a sample of cervical cells (biopsy) to be examined more closely under a microscope.
- Removal of abnormal cervical cells. To prevent abnormal cells from developing into cancerous cells, your doctor may suggest a procedure to remove the areas of tissue that contain the abnormal cells.
- Seeing a specialist. If your Pap test or HPV test results are abnormal, your health care provider will probably refer you to a gynecologist for a colposcopic exam. If test results show that you might have cancer, you may be referred to a doctor who specializes in treating cancers of the female genital tract (gynecologic oncologist) for treatment.
- Making sense of your Pap and HPV test results. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/pap/default.htm. Accessed Jan. 17, 2012.
- Thinking about testing for HPV? American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/docroot/CRI/content/CRI_2_6x_Thinking_About_Testing_for_HPV.asp?sitearea=&level=. Accessed Jan. 17, 2012.
- Human papillomavirus: HPV information for clinicians. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/common-clinicians/ClinicianBro-fp.pdf. Accessed Jan. 17, 2012.
- Sirovich BE, et al. Screening for cervical cancer. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Jan. 17, 2012.
- Solomon D, et al. Statement on HPV DNA test utilization. Journal of Lower Genital Tract Disease. 2009;13:135.
- Bosch FX. Human papillomavirus: Science and technologies for the elimination of cervical cancer. Expert Opinion Pharmacotherapy. 2011;12:2189.