We have the power to protect cervical health
Every year >500,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer globally - this disease is preventable. With a combination of vaccination, advances in screening and appropriate treatment, cervical disease can be found and stopped. The goal is to identify women at risk, before invasive cancer ever develops. We have the power, by helping to spread the word about the role of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) in the cause of cervical cancer, to protect women from this preventable disease.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is cervical cancer?
Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers in women worldwide. It starts in the cervix, located at the lower part of the uterus. When detected early, or in the pre-cancer stage, treatment can be highly successful. Persistent infection of certain high-risk types of HPV (the Human Papillomavirus) are known to be the primary cause of cervical cancer.
What is a HPV test?
The HPV test checks for high-risk HPV infection. However, the simple detection of high-risk HPV is not enough to cause concern, because HPV is very common. Clinically validated HPV tests have been designed to detect when levels of high-risk HPV are high enough to put a woman at greater risk of developing cervical disease. Because modern HPV tests are automated, a trained specialist is not needed to visually search for abnormal cells, thereby reducing human error.
What is a colposcopy?
A colposcopy is an important step toward prevention after receiving abnormal test results. During a colposcopy procedure, a healthcare provider uses a colposcope (a lighted magnifying device) to look for problems in the cervix that might be missed by the naked eye.
What is a biopsy?
During colposcopy, the healthcare provider may decide to take a closer look at the cells on the cervix by taking a biopsy or small tissue sample. The biopsy is sent to a laboratory to determine if there are cell changes indicating cervical pre-cancer or cancer. After the procedure, there may be some soreness and vaginal bleeding or discharge.
How is a cervical screening sample collected?
To perform a test, healthcare providers use an instrument, called a speculum, to help open the vagina, so that the cervix can be viewed. Another device is then inserted to collect a sample of cells from the cervix. The samples are then placed in a bottle containing preservative fluid, which are then sent to a laboratory.
Sample collection for cervical screening may feel a bit uncomfortable, and some women may experience a small pinch when the speculum is inserted or when the sample is taken from the cervix.
What is triage?
In the medical world, "triage" refers to the process of sorting people based on whether a patient may benefit from an immediate intervention. In the case of cervical screening, it may be recommended that women who receive a positive high-risk HPV result get managed more closely, with follow-up care or testing.