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What causes cervical cancer in women?

Whilst most infections of the HPV (human papillomavirus) are cleared up by the immune system without much difficulty, high risk strains of HPV in women may lead to cervical cancer. At UDoTest the focus is on early HPV virus detection and prevention by providing a home test that is discreet, safe, convenient and more sensitive and specific than the traditional Pap smear. 

What is Cervical Cancer and HPV?

Cervical cancer develops when high risk infected HPV cells within the cervix multiply and infect the cervix. From there it is possible that cancerous cells spread to other parts of the body, thus early detection is essential. For many years the traditional Pap smear has been used to detect the presence of HPV. More recently, advances in testing techniques have been developed which enable cancer of the cervix to be more accurately detected with HPV testing. 

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), cervical cancer is the most common cancer in developing countries.

What are the most common causes of Cervical Cancer?

  • Sexual intercourse: Sexual intercourse with an individual who already has the virus is recognised to be the primary means of becoming infected with HPV. In most cases the immune system deals effectively with the virus but when this is not the case the infection, if left untreated, may develop through a number of stages and become cancerous.

  • Smoking: CIN (Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia) is caused by smoking. Women who smoke can have a higher risk of developing the pre-malignant cells (lesions) on the surface of the cervix which can lead to cervical cancer.

  • HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) or a weakened immune system: Women infected with HIV are at a much higher risk of developing cancer of the cervix as their immune system is less able to fight off the infection. There is also a strong connection between HIV and HPV infections mainly due to them being primarily sexually transmitted diseases. Behavioural habits that raise the risk of contracting HIV also raise the risk of being infected by HPV.

How to check for HPV

An HPV test taken every 2 - 5 years for women aged 25+, or a Pap smear taken for women younger than 25 years old has greatly reduced the incidences of cervical cancer. The latest testing techniques coupled with the convenience and less obtrusive self-testing offered by UDoTest is rapidly coming to the forefront in the fight against this disease. As one would expect, the earlier the infection is detected the easier it is to treat. 

UDoTest sees early detection as a priority, and aims to enable women to overcome the personal issues that prevent them from being tested. Self-testing in the privacy of your own home, coupled with the convenience of a door-to-door service is already removing many of the obstacles that have prevented women from being tested in. 

What is a Pap smear?

A Pap smear is a medical procedure, usually performed by a gynaecologist, in which cells from the cervix are collected using an instrument called a speculum. These cells are then sent to a laboratory for analysis. 

Most doctors recommend this form of testing to bed one every 6 to 12 months. In older women, a Pap smear is statistically not as accurate as a genetic HPV test in detecting infection or abnormal cell activity. 

What is an HPV Test?

The UDoHPVTest uses a device called the Evalyn brush. This device is inserted into a woman's vagina in a manner not unlike inserting a tampon. The brush does not need to be inserted all the way up to cervix, all we require are vaginal wall cells. Once inserted, the swab must be rotated 3 times in order to receive a suitable sample. Remove the swab, place it into our discreet bag, and arrange your collection. From there, the sample is analysed by UDoTest accredited laboratories and by doctors. The improved early warning and accuracy of the HPV test means that it is only required every 2 – 5 years. 

Home Screening Tests reduce Cervical Cancer

Many women are uncomfortable about seeing a doctor for the traditional Pap smear and therefore testing is not taking place at the level necessary to reduce instances of cervical cancer. There are various reasons women are not going for their Pap smear, this ranges from cultural taboos to levels of personal embarrassment, discomfort, convenience and cost. 

Results of a woman’s UDoHPVTest are saved on her secure personal profile on the UDoTest website (www.udotest.com). UDoTest also offers 6-8 free counselling sessions if required. The entire process is done with the utmost respect for the woman’s privacy. 

Take steps towards detecting and preventing Cervical Cancer today! Early detection leads to more effective treatment. Don’t let Cervical Cancer become a part of your life.