HPV DNA test

Definition

The HPV DNA test is used to check for high-risk HPV infection in women.

HPV infection around the genitals is common. It can be spread during sex.

The HPV DNA test may be done during a Pap smear. If they are done together, it is called "co-testing."

You lie on a table and place your feet in stirrups. The health care provider places an instrument (called a speculum) into the vagina and opens it slightly to see inside. Cells are gently collected from the cervix area. The cervix is the lower part of the womb (uterus) that opens at the top of the vagina.

The cells are sent to a laboratory for examination under a microscope. This examiner checks to see if the cells contain genetic material (called DNA) from types of HPV that cause cancer. More tests may be done to determine the exact type of HPV.

How to Prepare for the Test

Avoid the following for 24 hours before the test:

Empty your bladder just before the test.

How the Test will Feel

The exam may cause some discomfort. Some women say it feels like menstrual cramps.

You may also feel some pressure during the exam.

You may bleed a bit after the test.

High-risk types of HPV can lead to cervical cancer or anal cancer. The HPV-DNA test is done to determine if you are infected with one of these high-risk types. Certain low risk types may also be identified by the test.

Your doctor may order an HPV-DNA test:

The HPV test results help your doctor decide if further testing or treatment is needed.

Normal Results

A normal result means you do not have a high-risk type of HPV. Some tests will also check for the presence of low-risk HPV, and this may be reported. If you are positive for low-risk HPV, your provider will guide you in making decisions about treatment.

What Abnormal Results Mean

An abnormal result means you have a high-risk type of HPV.

High-risk types of HPV may cause cervical cancer and cancer of the throat, tongue, anus, or vagina.

Most of the time, cervical cancer related to HPV is due to the following types:

Other high-risk types of HPV are less common.


Review Date: 9/25/2018
Reviewed By: John D. Jacobson, MD, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda Center for Fertility, Loma Linda, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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