Dr Oz: Does a Pap Smear Test for HPV?
Dr Oz’s show focused on the dangers and risks of HPV, which is a common cause of Cervical Cancer, Anal Cancer and Oral Cancer. But will a pap smear help you detect the disease?
Michelle is 37 and has been married for five years. She was surprised when she tested positive for HPV. She was shocked at the results, and it made her question her future. Was her life about to suddenly end?
Dr Oz invited Michelle to the show, and she talked about the surprise and shock she went through when she found out about her HPV diagnosis. She didn’t know what to do next. Her pap smears had always been normal.
Dr Oz: HPV Test Vs Pap Smear
Pap smears are great in preventing Cervical Cancers, but it’s not a perfect test. Sometimes HPV or Cervical Cancer could be above or below the areas that are swabbed in a pap smear.
Dr Oz said new guidelines recommend women getting fewer pap smears than in the past. Dr Diane Harper said that the timeframe for developing Cervical Cancer usually takes three to five years. That means an annual screening is testing too often. But you still want to have regular tests to ensure you are not developing precancerous cells.
Dr Harper said she believes it’s safe to have a pap test every three years, and if combined with an HPV test, you could space that out every five years.
Dr Oz: COBAS Test vs HPV Test
Dr Ashton said she’d rather have her patients ask for the HPV Test than discover something too late. You can also ask for the COBAS Test, which includes a pap smear and testing for three different types of HPV in one sample from a single swab at your doctor’s appointment.
She is happy to answer questions and give patients the answers they need to know. It’s better to be informed.
Michelle said she never knew there was an HPV test available until she happened to be asked about it when she changed doctors. She believes these tests should be standard for everyone.
Dr Oz: HPV Test vs Pap Smear Results
A pap smear examines cells from the cervix and are evaluated for abnormalities. But an HPV test checks the DNA of a cell to determine whether cancer-causing strains of HPV are present. Though they complement one another, they are completely different types of tests.
Dr Oz bottom lined this for everyone. “If you’re over age 30, until about 65 years of age…and you’re going for a pap test anyway…ask your doctor about having an HPV test at the same time,” he said. If everything comes back normally, you can hold off on further testing for five years.
But Dr Ashton said you still need to have annual exams and checkups with your gynecologist.