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Now you have your results...What do they mean?
You have just received your lab results and they indicate that you have tested positive for HPV.
It is very important to remember that human papilloma virus is very common. In many instances the infections are naturally cleared without causing any problems. The problems occur when the HPV infection remains active. This is when cell abnormalities may occur. There are many types of HPV which include high-risk types and low-risk types. Low-risk HPV is rarely found in cervical cancer and is associated with genital warts. High-risk HPV is found in a majority of cases where there are precancerous conditions and cervical cancer. It is very important to know that just because you have tested positive for high-risk HPV it does not mean this is an indication of cancer. It maybe necessary for your physician to refer to both your pap test results and your HPV test results to come up with a follow up plan for you.
- High-risk HPV and normal PAP-according to the experts you should repeat both of the tests every 6 to 12 months.
- High-risk HPV and abnormal PAP-according to the experts you should have further testing
Basic Points about HPV
- HPV is a very common sexually transmitted disease
- There are over 100 different types of HP
- Spontaneous resolution of HPV is common
- Most of the women who test positive for HPV will not develop cervical cancer
- The pap smear helps find HPV-related lesions, including precancerous cells as well as cervical cancer.
What to tell your partner?
It is a personal preference to discuss your test results with your partner. However, if you do decide to share your results it is very important to remember the following:
- At some point in their lives, most sexually active adults will get one or more type of HPV
- Your partner was probably exposed prior to your diagnosis.
- There is no way of finding out when or from whom you got the HPV. You could have been infected in the past and not realized. HPV could have been in it a dormant stage. There is no way to find out where it came from so there is no need to blame.
Dysplasia and Treatment Options
Dysplasia is another term used in describing HPV-related abnormalities. There are two categories of dyaplasia, low grade and high grade. Low grade is when there are slight changes in the shape or size of the cells and high grade is more serious abnormalities.
There are a few options which are available for treatments:
- Topical solutions
- Cone biopsy: a cone shaped piece of tissue is removed
- LEEP: removes abnormal tissue with a wire loop
Confirm with your health care provider to establish what is the best treatment option for you and your condition.
Keeping Track of your Test Results and your Treatment Plan
- Keep a record book containing dates of your Pap Smear and HPV test, the results and the follow up steps. As information is passed between you and your doctor remember to note what was discussed and the date and note when repeat tests are recommended and date and time they get scheduled. Keep this information organized in one place along with other test information such as breast exams.
- If you don't hear back from your doctor then take the time to call and receive your test results. You can also request copies of the actual lab reports. Make sure to ask the doctor or nurse any questions that you may have regarding your test results.
- All the information that you gather and organize will help you formulate any questions or concerns you would like to share with your healthcare provider. Keep this list along with the other records that you have been keeping.
- Getting organized and informed helps you stay in some control of your situation and the paths you take. Your records will also be helpful should you have to seek aid from another healthcare provider.
Important questions to ask your physician
- What are my treatment or follow-up options?
- Which option would you suggest and why?
- Are there any side effects or risks to the options I am considering?
- When is it recommended that I go for a repeat HPV test?
This report is intended for patient education and information only. It does not constitute advice, nor should it be taken to suggest or replace professional medical care from your physician. Your treatment options may vary, depending upon medical history and current condition. Only your physician and you can determine your best option.