Mar 3, 2021
HPV and cervical cancer: a negative is a positive, if you can trust it

Cervical cancer kills more than 300,000 women annually.i In 2018 alone, it was the fourth most frequent cancer in women and its high mortality rate could be reduced through a comprehensive approach that includes effective screening.

The goal of cervical cancer screening is simple but critical: to detect pre-cancer before it develops into cancer.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that screening for cervical cancer start at age 25 and, for women without a history of cervical pre-cancer or cancer, the preferred method for screening for cervical cancer is by primary HPV screening every five years.ii

There are many different kinds (also called “genotypes”) of human papillomavirus (HPV). The low-risk kinds can cause minor issues, like wartsiii, but the high-risk kinds can progress to cervical cancer—and persistent infection with HPV is the cause of virtually all cases of cervical canceriv.

Extended genotyping allows for the detection of several different types of high- risk HPV.   It is important to know this information because not all types of high-risk HPV pose an equal risk for cervical precancer or cancer. Simply put, more genotypes mean more precise care.  

By identifying which HPV genotype a woman tests positive for, a patient may avoid the immediate need for a diagnostic procedure called a colposcopy, if the high-risk genotype poses a lower risk for cervical precancerv. Colposcopies are important for detecting cervical pre-cancer and cancer, but they can be a stressful and unpleasant experience for the patient.

Conversely, a woman who tests positive for an HPV genotype that does carry a more immediate risk for cervical cancer can be promptly directed to further diagnostic procedures, such as colposcopyiv. Having further diagnostic procedures may help spot cervical disease before it develops into a potentially invasive cancer.

And again: the goal of cervical cancer screening is to detect pre-cancer before it develops into cancer. A more sensitive HPV test provides a more accurate assessment of an individual’s risk for developing cervical pre-cancer.

The BD Women’s Health & Cancer team, part of the company’s Integrated Diagnostic Solutions business unit, is committed to providing precise and accurate ways to measure a woman’s risk for developing cervical pre-cancer and cancer to help in the ongoing battle against cervical cancer.

To learn more about BD Onclarity™ HPV assay, which provides the most individual genotyping results of any FDA-approved HPV assayvi, visit


iWorld Health Organization. Cervical Cancer. Available at: Assessed on September 25, 2019.


iii Basic Information about HPV and Cancer | CDC. Published 2018. Accessed August 25, 2020.

iv Walboomers J, Jacobs M, Manos M et al. Human papillomavirus is a necessary cause of invasive cervical cancer worldwide. J Pathol. 1999;189(1):12-19.

v Perkins R, Guido R, Castle P et al. 2019 ASCCP Risk-Based Management Consensus Guidelines for Abnormal Cervical Cancer Screening Tests and Cancer Precursors. J Low Genit Tract Dis. 2020;24(2):102-131.

vi BD Onclarity HPV Assay US Package Insert [8089894].


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