Cervical Health London
What is HPV?
HPV, or Human Papilloma Viruses, are viruses that cannot live autonomously; their survival and multiplication require a host’s cells. The HPV virus contains DNA in its genetic material and is hosted in human cells. There are over 200 types (serotypes) of HPV viruses, and they are classified as low-risk or high-risk depending on their ability to induce cancer or other conditions.
Which pathological conditions may HPV virus cause in a woman?
HPV virus may cause a plethora of benign or malign lesions to the skin of the human body. The high-risk HPV types are oncogenic, and if they are not remitted by the immune system they can induce uterine cervical cancer or, more rarely, vaginal cancer. Low-risk HPV types may induce genital warts, which are not malign. It should be noted that most HPV infections do not lead to cancer. Apart from the female genital system, different types of the virus may affect different body systems including the hands, the feet, or other organs of the respiratory system.
How can an HPV infection be prevented?
Vaccines are available that can offer protection from certain virus strains. As is the case with all common vaccines, they are manufactured using non-pathogenic protein parts of the virus, offering immunity to the virus. Vaccines offer protection from the #6, #11, #16, #18, #31, #33, #45, #52 and #58 strains of the virus. Recent research has indicated that protection from additional strains may be offered via cross-reaction. The vaccines available enable a female’s immune system to incapacitate the strains if infected by them. Administration of the vaccine may happen from the age of 15 until the age of 26. The vaccine does not offer blanket protection against all HPV strains in existence and does not help combat an existing infection. Now the vaccine is available for boys and girls.
What is a Pap Smear test?
Papanikolaou Test or Pap Smear is the name of a cytology examination that checks the cells in the genital area. It is an inspection method for detecting epithelial lesions of the vagina and the cervix (precancerous and cancerous alike). The information this test provides concerns the state of the cells that have been examined. Pap Smear constitutes the cornerstone of preventive gynecology since it aims to prevent cervical cancer.
How is a Pap Smear Test conducted?
The process of the Pap Smear test is simple and requires only a few minutes. The doctor, using a special spatula, extracts vaginal and cervical cells which are then sent for cytological study. The extraction of the cells occurs as follows: We remove one layer of cells from the vaginal area, a layer of the outer surface of the cervix, and finally a layer of cells from the inner region of the cervix, the endocervix. A Pap Smear test does not hurt, all you will feel is a little discomfort during the examination. You should keep in mind that the benefits for your health are great, despite the few seconds of discomfort.
How often should I have a Pap Smear Test?
A Pap Smear test should be done for the first time six to twelve months after the beginning of your sex life. It should be repeated every one to three years, unless your doctor determines that it should be done more often, for reasons that you should certainly discuss with him.
What is a Colposcopy?
A Colposcopy is a special diagnostic test that aims to further explore possible lesions discovered during the Pap test. It lasts for 15 minutes. The gynecologist uses a colposcope to observe the cervix magnified. The use of a colposcope, which is specially designed and equipped with high definition magnifying lenses, provides the doctor with the opportunity to identify with clarity, the potential damage and the possibility to conduct a guided biopsy, if so necessary.
How is a Colposcopy performed?
The patient sits on the specialist gynecological examination bed. We use the colposcope, in order to examine the cervix and the surrounding areas when deemed necessary. Then we proceed to map the cervical region. The mapping is based on the bleaching of the cervix that occurs when it is contacted with acetic acid. Bleaching is closely related to the pathology of the cervix and demonstrates the regions with the greatest likelihood of damage. In this way, the subjectivity of the human factor does not become an issue and directed biopsies can be taken from the higher risk areas.