My HPV results came in as high-risk and my doctor says I should go back in for another pap smear in 4-6 months. What does high risk mean? Is it that I have high-risk strains of the HPV and that the chances of cervical cancer are greater?
HPV is the causitive factor for cervical cancer, however having HPV does not mean a person will develop cervical cancer (or for that matter any ill-effects from it). High risk HPV, are the strains of HPV that have the potential to cause cervical (and/or vaginal/vulva etc.) cancer. Low risk HPV has the potential to cause genital warts. It is important to know that HPV is extemely common, over 80% of people will have an ACTIVE infection by the time they are 50 but most will clear without any symptoms or ill-effects. (HPV can lay dormant for years before becoming active - if it ever does). So knowing how common it is you can see how unlikely it is for HPV to actually cause cancer, so that is good news! It is important to to continue to monitor your HPV status and have regular smears, the longer the infection is active the more likely it is for dysplasia to develop. However, even having cervical dysplasia does not mean a woman will go on to develop cervical cancer - dysplasia is most often cleared by the woman's body but there is that small percentage that may progress which is why we need to keep up with regular smears.
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