Thursday, February 01, 2007

What You Need To Know About Cervical Cancer

A hundred years ago, women who develop cervical cancer were those whose husbands traveled frequently, whose previous wife had died of cervical cancer or fitted from one partner to another. Its was just 20 years ago that one of the main causes of cervical cancer was identified as a malevolent virus called the human papillomavirus or HPV.

Cervical cancer is the most common cancer of the female reproductive tract and is the second most common cancer in women next to breast cancer. It was revealed that there are more than 70 distinct site specific types of HPV, growing on one part of the body but not on another. HPV is acquired through love making and it infiltrates the lining cells of the genital organs. The virus apparently can thrive in the cells of the human body without killing them and without inducing immunological reactions. The body ignores the virus allowing it to alter the genetic code of cells. As a result cancerous cells multiply and become lethal after many years.

Test that indicate if a woman has the strains of HPV that increase the risk for cervical cancer are now invaluable. The HPV DNA test using the Hybrid Capture II System developed by a company called Digene recently became commercially available. The test has a sensitivity of more than 90 percent, and a negative predictive value of over 90 percent. The test entails taking cervical swabs much like pap smear using the brush from a Digene sampler. Pap smear collected with a broom collection device and rinsed in the ThinPrep System PreservCyt solution may also be used to provide the same specimen for HPV testing.



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