HPV to cervical cancer: prevention and screening

Madeline Minnix


The human papilloma virus, or HPV, is central when it comes to cervical cancer. The virus can be detected in 99.7% of all cervical cancers. In developing countries, cervical cancer is a leading cause of cancer deaths among women. For this reason, it is important to screen for the virus, as well as get vaccinated against HPV before it has the opportunity to infect and cause cancer. Cervical cancer is screened in women through annual pap smears, but these result in a high number of false positives, and is difficult to screen for in developing countries. Because of this, large randomized control trials have looked at screening for HPV to detect and prevent cervical cancer. In Europe, four randomized trials compared the efficacy of HPV-based screening and cytology-based screening over a median six-year period. Against cervical cancer, their findings showed that HPV-based screening beginning at age 30 provides 60-70% greater protection in comparison to cytology.

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