Does an HPV Diagnosis Mean You'll Get Cervical Cancer?
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Does an HPV Diagnosis Mean You'll Get Cervical Cancer?

That abnormal Pap and HPV diagnosis doesn't mean cancer is in your future.
Q. "I was just diagnosed with HPV. Now what?"

A. Don't panic: More often than not, HPV comes and goes without causing any harm. And though there are 100-plus strains of the virus, two are much more likely to lead to cervical cancer. "It takes years for the disease to develop, so with screening, the chance is remote that HPV will turn into cervical cancer," says Suzanne Trupin, M.D., clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. If you're under 30, get regular Pap tests and, if those are abnormal, HPV tests. Over 30 and positive? Most docs advise regular checkups with a colposcopy, an exam that reveals atypical tissue in the vagina, vulva and cervix. It's also recommended that women 26 and younger get the HPV vaccine to protect themselves against strains they haven't acquired. "While there's no treatment for HPV, a vaccination or early detection can keep you healthy," Dr. Trupin says.

Originally published in FITNESS Magazine, February 2010.