Human papillomavirus (HPV) testing

Last updated: Tuesday, 23, March, 2004

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Item Process
SpecimenCells or tissue obtained by Pap smear (cervix), cytology collection or biopsy of lesion.
MethodMicroscopy, immunoperoxidase staining, HPV-DNA probe with or without prior PCR amplification.
Application

To detect presence of papillomavirus infection when this is suspected but is not evident clinically.

Typing of virus infection to determine relative risk of developing cancer.

Interpretation

The occurrence of genital cancer (especially cervical) is greatly increased in the presence of 'high risk' HPV types (types 16,18, 31, 33, 35, 39, 45, 51, 52, 56, 58, 59 and 68).

Sensitivity with PCR methodology is greater than methods utilising DNA probes alone. 

ReferenceCuzik J et al. Lancet 2003; 362: 1871-1876.