HPV has 52 strains or types of which ± 15 are oncogenic (cancer causing).Of these 15 strains, two – HPV strains 16 and 18 – are found in 70% of all cervical cancer.
HPV causes cancerous cells to develop on the upper layers (called the cylinder epithelial) of the cervix. If left unchecked, the cells will grow into cancer, which will spread into the uterus and can spread to any other area of the body.
When a healthy woman is infected with HPV, it can take anywhere between 10 to 20 years for cancer to develop. This is why we encourage women to have a cervical screening (Pap smear) every five years as from 30 years of age.
A cervical screening is designed to diagnose pre- and cancerous cells so that treatment can be discussed with the patient.