Genital warts are caused by ‘low-risk’ HPV types, which are very common but do not cause cervical cancer. Your cervical screening test looks for ‘high-risk’ HPV types which do not cause genital warts.
This does not mean that you will not get genital warts, but these are not linked to your cervical screening result.
All cervical screening samples in Wales are tested for high-risk types of HPV, which causes over 99.7% of cervical cancers.
If HPV is not found in your screening test we do not need to examine your cells as your risk of developing cell changes is extremely low. We know that some people find this worrying and would prefer that we looked at the cells, but a test showing no HPV is more reliable than finding normal cells.
HPV is a very common virus that most people will come into contact with at some point in their lives. Some types of HPV (called ‘high-risk’ types) can cause cervical cancer in a small number of people. Your cervical screening test looks for these high-risk types.
Your cervical screening test result shows you do have the virus but it is not causing any problems with the cells on your cervix at this time.
In this case, because the cells are normal, you can have your test repeated in 12 months’ time. This will give your body’s immune system some more time to try to deal with the virus. In most people, the virus will go without any treatment being needed.
If the virus is still found after 12 months and there are any changes seen in the cells, you will be sent to a colposcopy clinic for a closer look at your cervix.
If your cells are still normal, you will be invited for another test after a further 12 months. Should you still have the virus then, you will be offered an appointment at a colposcopy clinic even if the cells are still normal.
If your result says that you have HPV, then this will be ‘high-risk’ HPV, which can cause cervical cancer in a small number of people. Our test looks for 14 different High Risk HPV types but will only tell us if high-risk HPV is found. It does not tell us which HPV type, or how many HPV types were found.
When HPV is found, we need to check the cells from your cervix to make sure it is not causing any changes at this time. We could not give a result for the cells in your sample. This might be because there were not enough cells for us to give you a result, or because there was a problem processing your sample.
You should have your test repeated, but please wait 3 months to allow the cells to grow back.
Before we started testing all cervical screening samples for HPV, we did advise people who had had treatment for cell changes that they would need annual screening for up to 10 years.
We know that certain types of HPV cause 99.7% of cervical cancers, and we are testing for these types. If these HPV types are not found in your sample, your risk of developing any cell changes is extremely low. This means that you do not need to keep having cervical screening tests every year.
HPV is a very common virus that most people will come into contact with at some point in their lives.
If no human papillomavirus (HPV) is found in your sample, the sample will not be kept.
If HPV is found, the sample will be used to make a slide with your cells on it. We will look at the cells to see if they are normal or if there are any changes.
We will keep your slide for at least 10 years. The laboratory can then compare your latest test result with the ones that you have had before. This is to make sure that you get any treatment you may need. We may review all screening records, including your slide, as part of our aim to offer a quality service and to help increase the expertise of our specialist staff.
If a review were to show that you should be cared for differently, we would contact you. We would offer you information about the review of your case if you wanted to know it. We may also use your sample for teaching or for research purposes. This would not use your name. If you are unhappy about this, please let the person who takes your test know.