Most cervical cancer is caused by infection with human papillomavirus (HPV). Some strains of HPV can cause changes to the cells that line the cervix. Often, these changes go away on their own if the body can fight the infection. Sometimes, though, the infection is persistent or goes undetected and can lead to cancer.
Screening tests allow NYU Langone doctors to find abnormalities and precancerous changes to the cells, called dysplasia, and provide treatment before cancer develops. Screening tests also detect cervical cancer early on, when therapies are most effective.
For a Pap test, your doctor uses a device called a speculum to hold open the walls of the vagina. They then insert a small brush to collect a sample of cells from the outside and inside of the cervix. These cells are then processed and examined under a microscope.
Human Papillomavirus Test
Using a speculum and a small brush, your doctor can collect cervical cells that are tested for certain strains of HPV known to increase the likelihood of cervical cancer developing. These include HPV 16 and 18, in addition to several other HPV types.
NYU Langone doctors follow established national guidelines for cervical cancer screening. Each woman is unique. You should discuss your personal cervical cancer screening strategy, and management of results with your doctor.
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