In the presence of symptoms and signs of illness, doctors prescribe many laboratory tests to confirm assumptions and make a diagnosis. In the consultation list, patients can find an analysis of HPV: what it is, why and when it is prescribed - not everyone knows the answer.
What is HPV?
The human papillomavirus, HPV is a whole group of virus-like infectious diseases that are widespread. Scientists know more than 100 types of this virus, and not all of them are dangerous for humans. Most are imperceptibly present in the body for a long time, causing gait. 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 other actions and the nature of the treatment.
Human papillomavirus - types
The papilloma virus is usually divided into types depending on the risk of provoking the development of oncology. Taking this factor into account, there are three main groups of HPV:
- non-oncogenic- never cause the development of malignant tumors.
- Low oncogenic risk- can, under certain conditions, provoke the development of cancer: 6, 11, 42, 43, 44.
- High oncogenic risk- when infected with these types of HPV, it is difficult to prevent the development of malignant tumors. Oncogenic human papillomavirus: 16, 18, 31, 35, 33, 45, 58, 59, 52.
How is the human papillomavirus transmitted?
Knowing how the papillomavirus 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 carried out during a kiss, when there are microcracks and scratches on the surface of the lips. You can also get infected if you violate hygiene rules when visiting public places:
- and also when using someone else's toothbrush, towel, razor.
Infection can also occur when the baby passes through the mother's infected pathways during delivery. Specialists do not exclude the possibility of transmission of the virus by contact: it is unstable, but it is capable of maintaining some activity.Among 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
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 proceeds 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 condylomas on the skin. Their location can be different and corresponds to the place of penetration of the virus into the body: genitals, surface of the hands, lips. These formations look like papillary bumps, sometimes they externally resemble cauliflower. The consequences are painless, but with friction and injury, they can cause pain and bleeding.
Why do I need an HPV test?
Having talked about the virus, let's move on to information about HPV analysis: what type of research is it, how it is carried out and in which cases it is prescribed. To begin with, we note that if human papillomavirus is suspected, the analysis helps to confirm or refute the assumptions. Research of this type has the following objectives:
- identification of high-risk oncogenic HPV;
- confirmation/denial of persistence of a certain type of HPV;
- assessment of cancer risk in patients with cervical epithelial layer dysplasia.
In addition to the reasons cited for the examination, the HPV analysis (which is - indicated above) can be presented in the following cases:
- Primary screening for cervical cancer in women over 30 years of age.
- Evaluation of the results of the surgical treatment performed for intraepithelial neoplasia.
- Doubtful results of cytological examination of gynecological smears.
What tests should I do for HPV?
There are several methods to determine the presence of the papilloma virus in the body. However, in most cases, doctors resort to PCR. If testing for HPV is required, patients undergo testing directly. Various biological body fluids can be used as material for examination:
- amniotic fluid (when diagnosing an illness during pregnancy).
Talking about the analysis of HPV, what it is and how it is performed, it is necessary to highlight 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 HPV damage to the body. For confirmation, a small piece of tissue is removed for examination under a microscope to exclude malignancy.
HPV diagnostic methods
The diagnosis of HPV 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 accurate method. With its help, it is possible to establish the concentration of the virus in the body, the type and oncogenicity. The material for research is scraping of the mucous membrane of the urethra or vagina. It is often used in combination with cytology.
- HPV PCR diagnosis- a simple and affordable diagnostic method that is widespread. The material used is the patient's blood or urine. Assumes the detection of traces of viral DNA in the sample.
- Cytological examination- examination of the smear under a microscope. The evaluation criterion is the presence of modified cells in the smear - dyskeratocytes and koilocytes.
- Detection of antibodies against HPV- helps to identify virus infection in the early stages. The disadvantage 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 test?
Before the exam, even during the issuance of the referral, doctors inform the patient in detail how the HPV test is performed in a given case. Depending on the examination methods and materials used, the analysis algorithm may differ. Preparation for research is of great importance. Correct implementation of all points of preparatory measures allows to obtain objective results of the analysis and eliminate the need for repeated implementation.
Preparation for HPV analysis
Before HPV analysis, the patient must meet a number of conditions. In this case, the survey method and the type of material for analysis are of decisive importance. It is represented by:
- a cotton swab from the vagina or urethra.
Depending on the type of biological fluid being studied, the patient receives recommendations on how to prepare for analysis the day before. The examinee'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
Talking about how the HPV test is done, it should be noted that in most cases the patient's blood is used for this. The study is performed on an empty stomach: 10 to 12 hours before the scheduled time for ingestion of the material, the patient cannot eat; as a beverage, you can use plain, still water. 2-3 days before the day of analysis, it is forbidden to consume alcoholic, fatty drinks 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 most often used to examine the fair sex. Before women are tested for HPV, they are prepared for this test. The doctor presents the patient in detail with all the rules of preparation. In this process, the following important points can be highlighted:
- A smear is taken before starting the course of antibiotics or 2. 5 weeks after the end of treatment.
- On the day of sampling, it is forbidden to clean the external genitals with hygiene chemicals.
- It is forbidden to douche, enter vaginal suppositories.
- The day before taking the material, you must abstain from sexual intercourse.
- The ideal is to do an analysis in the middle of the cycle, it is forbidden to do a study during the period of ovulation.
Decoding the HPV analysis
Only a doctor can correctly decipher the results of an HPV test. The specialist assesses not only the quantitative value of the indicators, but also the clinical picture, possible signs of infection. Getting a complete picture of what's going on helps you choose the right drugs and 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 neoplasms increases.
Quantitative analysis of HPV
When an HPV test is performed using quantitative analysis, decoding involves establishing the concentration of the virus at the time of study. This helps to determine the correct tactics for patient management. Real-time PCR (RT-PCR) measures the amount of HPV DNA in a test sample. This is necessary for continuous dynamic monitoring of a specific type of human papillomavirus.
However, even those who know the HPV analysis, what it is and how it is performed, cannot independently decipher the results. This should be done in conjunction with the patient examination and other examinations. When evaluating, experts adhere to the following interpretation of 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, possibly the initial stage of the disease.
Qualitative analysis of HPV
The analysis of high-risk oncogenic HPV is performed using this technique. Helps identify the 16th and 18th types of HPV. These forms of the virus commonly cause genital cancer in women and squamous cell carcinoma, genital warts, and cervical dysplasia. The detection efficiency of HPV DNA reaches 98%. The conclusion suggests a response with an indication of each type of virus. There are two possible results: found / not found.