After a few wild years as a teen, Jessica wanted to be proactive in preventing cervical cancer. She’d contracted several STDs that were treated and she thought herself to be a “clean” adult. So she began getting regular pap smear exams with a new gynecologist. Little did she know, an untreated STD (one she had never been tested for because it never revealed any symptoms) led to cervical cancer.
About 3 years ago, Jess went in for her regular exam. Thankfully her healthcare provider requested an HPV test along with her regular pap. While her pap screening came back normal, she tested positive for HPV 16. She was immediately recommended to have a “colposcopy”, which would allow the physician to take a closer look at her cervix. Results came back normal and she was scheduled for a re-check in a year.
After 1 year, she tested positive again for HPV with a normal pap smear. The colposcopy came back normal, and she was scheduled for another re-check 1 year later.
Her results were again the same; a normal pap and a positive HPV test during her 3rd annual exam. This was alarming, so the doctor took an even closer look this time and the colposcopy showed some suspicious looking areas.
He then performed a procedure called a “LEEP,” and she was diagnosed with cervical cancer.
She was terrified and embarrassed, she’d already been living with an HPV diagnosis. It’s a sad story, but Jessica found some relief in her ability to encourage other women to get tested for HPV and cervical cancer along with their annual pap smear. HPV is quite common, and if it does not clear, there’s much greater risk for the development of cervical cancer. Perhaps, her situation would’ve been different if she was tested for HPV during her teens.