HPV Testing, Diagnosing and Treatment

There are more than 100 strains of HPV (Human Papilloma Virus), and between them they cause a number of conditions and diseases. Approximately 60 strains of HPV cause warts of some kind, while the remaining 40 or so attack the body’s mucous membranes, causing cells to deform and possibly leading to cancer (anal, cervical or penile).

In many cases an HPV infection shows no symptoms, meaning that undergoing a clinical test at somewhere like Broadgate Clinic London Wall (if you happen to live and/or work in London) is often the only way of getting an accurate diagnosis.

HPV infections that cause warts

The simplest test for certain types of HPV infection is a visual one. However, this only applies to HPV infections that cause warts.

The most common types of warts include:

  • Common warts – most often appear on the hands but can appear in other places of the body.
  • Plantar warts – this type of wart develops on the foot
  • Flat warts – usually appear on the arms, face and legs
  • Filiform warts – appear on the beard area of men, and around the mouth and nose
  • Periungual warts – appear under and around the fingernails and toenails
  • Genital warts – appear on the genital or groin areas, and/or around the anus.

Testing for an HPV infection that causes warts

If you have an HPV infection that causes warts, a simple visual examination by a medical professional is usually enough to confirm a diagnosis.

As well as the simple visual examination, a medical practitioner may also apply a thinly diluted form of acetic acid to a suspect area. This makes difficult-to-see flat warts more plainly visible.

Testing for HPV infections that cause cervical dysplasia

Although HPV is commonly associated with cervical cancer, it does not cause it directly. There is a common misconception. The fact of the matter is that some HPV infections can cause cervical dysplasia. This is a condition that causes changes to the cells in the cervix. It is this condition, that if left untreated, that can in some instances lead to cervical cancer. Most instances of cervical cancer have their root cause in HPV.

There are two ways of testing for an HPV infection that causes cervical dysplasia. They include:

Pap testing

Pap tests or cervical smears are procedures that are carried out by medical practitioners whereby a sample of cells is collected from the cervix or vagina. These cells are then analysed for cervical dysplasia.

DNA testing

DNA testing can be performed on women aged 30 and over to recognise any high-risk strains of HPV that can cause cervical cancer. This test is carried out in addition to the Pap test and is performed is a similar manner by collecting a sample of cells for analysis from the cervix.

Treatment for HPV Infections

If you have been positively diagnosed with an HPV infection, there are several HPV treatment options depending on the nature of the infection.

Treating an HPV infection that causes warts

In many instances warts will disappear naturally without treatment; however, although the warts may disappear you may still carry the infection and can transmit it on to others. There are a number of medicinal options for treating warts. These include:

  • Imiquimod
  • Podofilox
  • Saliylic acid
  • Trichloraecetic acid

There are also a number of medical procedures that can be administered to get rid of warts. These include

  • Cryotherapy
  • Electrocautery
  • Laser treatment
  • Surgical removal

Treating an HPV infection that creates abnormal cells

If you are diagnosed with cervical dysplasia you will be informed if it is border-line to low-grade risk (dyskaryosis), or moderate to high grade risk (dyskaryosis).

If it is border-line/low-grade no immediate action will be taken as the cell changes are minimal and could disappear or simply not worsen. But if the presence of HPV has been confirmed you will be invited to have a Colposcopy performed. A Colposcopy is an examination which takes a closer look at the cervix.

If you are diagnosed with high-grade risk you will be invited to have a Colposcopy performed regardless of whether an HPV infection has been identified.

Whatever the results it should be borne in mind that you do not have cancer; only a condition that might lead to cancer, but that also might not.

Removal of abnormal cells

If having undergone a Colposcopy it is recommended you have any abnormal cells removed, there are several ways this can be done. They include:

  • Large loop excision of the transformation zone (LLETZ). The transformation zone is a small area where the cervix meets the tissue that lines the entrance of the birth canal.
  • Cone biopsy. This is a surgical procedure carried out under a general anaesthetic.
  • Cryotherapy
  • Laser treatment
  • Cold coagulation
  • Hysterectomy

HPV testing, diagnosis and treatment at Broadgate Clinic London Wall

Whether it’s testing and diagnosis, or treatment for HPV that you are interested in, and you live and/or work in London, you can have it performed at the well women health services clinic here at Broadgate Clinic London Wall. For maximum convenience we operate a walkin clinic service whereby no prior appointment is necessary.