When symptoms and signs of illness are present, doctors order numerous lab tests to confirm hypotheses and make a diagnosis. In the list of appointments, patients can find HPV analysis: what is it, why and when it is prescribed - not everyone can answer.
What is HPV?
The human papillomavirus, HPV is a whole group of infectious virus-like diseases which are very common. Scientists know more than 100 types of this virus, and not all of them are dangerous to humans. Most are imperceptibly present in the body for a long time, causing carriage. However, about 14 types of this virus are oncogenic - they cause the development of malignant neoplasms. When diagnosing, doctors always pay attention to the type of HPV, its oncogenicity, which determines further actions and the nature of treatment.
Human papillomavirus - types
Papilloma virus is usually divided into types based on the risk of causing the development of oncology. Considering this factor, there are three main groups of HPV:
- Non-oncogenic- never induce the development of malignant tumors.
- Low oncogenic risk- can, under certain conditions, cause the development of cancer: 6, 11, 42, 43, 44.
- High oncogenic risk- in the event of infection with these types of HPV, it is difficult to prevent the development of malignant tumors. Oncogenic human papillomaviruses: 16, 18, 31, 35, 33, 45, 58, 59, 52.
How is the human papillomavirus transmitted?
Knowing how the HPV is transmitted can reduce the risk of infection. In practice, however, this is difficult to avoid. In the vast majority of cases, transmission occurs with the onset of sexual activity: sexual intercourse is the main mode of transmission of the virus. Its transfer can also be done during a kiss, when there are microcracks and scratches on the surface of the lips. You can also get infected if you break hygiene rules when visiting public places:
- thermal baths;
- and also using someone else's toothbrush, towel, razor.
Infection can also occur when the baby passes through the mother's infected tract during childbirth. Experts do not exclude the possibility of transmission of the virus by contact: it is unstable, but it is able to maintain a certain activity.Some of the factors that cause HPV infection:
- early onset of sexual activity;
- a large number of sexual partners;
- sexually transmitted infections;
- reduced immunity.
Human papillomavirus - symptoms
The human papillomavirus can be invisibly present in the body for a long time. The incubation period, according to experts, can last from 2 months to 2 years. The disease progresses imperceptibly: there are no clinical symptoms, and the main diagnostic methods show the norm. One in three patients, thanks to their immune system, recovers within 6 to 12 months from the moment of infection.
The clinic of HPV damage to the body is reduced to the appearance of skin formations. Patients notice papillomas, warts, and warts on their skin. Their localization can be different and corresponds to the place of penetration of the virus in the organism: genitals, surface of the hands, lips. These formations look like papillary growths, sometimes they outwardly resemble cauliflower. The growths are painless, but along with friction and injury, they can cause pain and bleeding.
Why do i need an HPV test?
After talking about the virus, let's move on to information about HPV scanning: what kind of research it is, how it is performed, and in what cases it is prescribed. To begin with, note that if a human papillomavirus is suspected, the analysis makes it possible to confirm or refute the hypotheses. Research of this type has the following objectives:
- identification of high risk oncogenic HPVs;
- confirmation / denial of the persistence of a certain type of HPV;
- cancer risk assessment in patients with dysplasia of the epithelial layer of the cervix.
In addition to the reasons mentioned for the examination, the HPV analysis (what it is - stated above) can be shown in the following cases:
- Primary screening for cervical cancer in women over 30.
- Evaluation of the results of the performed surgical treatment of intraepithelial neoplasias.
- Doubtful results of cytological examination of gynecological smears.
What tests do I need to take for HPV?
There are several methods to determine the presence of the papilloma virus in the body. However, in most cases, doctors use PCR. If it is necessary to undergo an analysis for HPV, the patients undergo this examination directly. Various biological body fluids can be used as examination material:
- some blood;
- amniotic fluid (when diagnosing a disease during pregnancy).
Talking about HPV analysis, what it is and how it is performed, it is necessary to note the possibility of studying tissue material. So, during colposcopy, the doctor carefully examines the mucous membrane of the cervix. The presence of small papillomas on them is direct evidence of the damage that HPV causes to the body. For confirmation, a small piece of tissue is taken for examination under a microscope to rule out malignancy.
HPV diagnostic methods
HPV diagnosis is a set of measures aimed at establishing the presence of the virus and determining its type. For this, the following techniques are used:
- Digene test- modern precise method. With its help, it is possible to establish the concentration of the virus in the body, type and oncogenicity. The research material is the scratching of the mucous membrane of the urethra or vagina. It is often used in combination with cytology.
- PCR diagnosis of HPV- a simple and affordable diagnostic method which is widely used. The material used is the patient's blood or urine. Assumes detection of traces of viral DNA in the sample.
- Cytological examination- examination of the smear under the microscope. The endpoint is the presence of modified cells in the smear - dyskeratocytes and coilocytes.
- Anti-HPV antibody detection- helps identify viral infection in the early stages. The downside is that it is not possible to establish the concentration and type of virus.
- Histological examination - examination of a sample of the affected tissue to determine the type of HPV and its oncogenicity.
Human papillomavirus - how to get tested?
Before the examination, even when issuing the referral, doctors explain in detail to the patient how the HPV test is performed in a particular case. Depending on the examination methods and material used, the analysis algorithm may differ. Preparation for research is of great importance. The correct implementation of all points of the preparatory measures allows you to achieve objective results of the analysis and eliminate the need for repeated implementation.
Preparation for HPV analysis
Before the HPV analysis, the patient must meet a number of conditions. In this case, the survey method and the type of analytical material are of decisive importance. It is represented by:
- some blood;
- a swab from the vagina or urethra.
Depending on the type of biological fluid being studied, the patient is given recommendations on how to prepare for the test the day before. The candidate's task is to fully follow the preparation rules. This will avoid getting false results, and in some cases false positives, when the result indicates the presence of HPV in its absence.
HPV blood test
Speaking of how the HPV test is performed, it should be noted that in most cases the patient's blood is used for this. The study is carried out on an empty stomach: 10 to 12 hours before the scheduled time of taking the material, the patient is not allowed to eat; as a drink you can use still water without gas. 2-3 days before the day of the analysis, it is forbidden to consume alcoholic, fatty and junk food. Only in this case, the diagnosis of HPV by blood will allow you to get accurate test results.
HPV smear analysis
This method is more often used to examine the fair sex. Before women are tested for HPV, they are prepared for this test. The doctor presents to the patient in detail all the rules of preparation.In this process, the following important points can be highlighted:
- A smear is done before starting the course of antibiotics or 2, 5 weeks after the end of the treatment.
- On the day of the sample, it is forbidden to wash the external genitalia using chemical hygiene products.
- It is forbidden to shower, enter vaginal suppositories.
- A day before taking the material, you should refrain from sexual intercourse.
- It is ideal to do an analysis in the middle of the cycle, it is forbidden to do a study during the period of ovulation.
Deciphering the HPV Analysis
Only a doctor can correctly decipher the results of an HPV test. The specialist assesses not only the quantitative value of indicators, but also the clinical picture, possible signs of infection. Getting the full picture of what's going on helps in choosing the right drugs and choosing effective treatment methods. At the same time, it is important to take into account the severity of timely diagnosis and treatment: with the age of the patient, the risk of developing malignant tumors increases.
Quantitative HPV analysis
When an HPV test is performed by quantitative analysis, decoding involves establishing the concentration of the virus at the time of the study. This helps determine the right tactics for managing patients. Real-time PCR (RT-PCR) measures the amount of HPV DNA in a test sample. This is necessary for the continuous dynamic surveillance of a specific type of human papillomavirus.
However, even those familiar with HPV analysis, what it is and how it is performed, cannot decipher the results independently. This should be done in conjunction with examining the patient and other examinations. During the assessment, the experts adhere to the following interpretation of the indicators:
- lg<3- the risk of developing dysplasia is low;
- lg 3-5- a clinically significant result, there is a risk of developing cervical dysplasia;
- lg >5- high probability of dysplasia, perhaps the initial stage of the disease.
HPV qualitative analysis
High risk oncogenic HPV analysis is performed using this technique. Helps identify the 16th and 18th types of HPV. These forms of the virus often cause female genital cancer and squamous cell carcinoma, genital warts, and cervical dysplasia. The detection efficiency of HPV DNA reaches 98%. The conclusion suggests an answer with an indication of each type of virus. There are two possible outcomes: found / not found.