Prevention of cervical cancer and HPV. Interview with Dr. Renata Castelli.

Prevention of cervical cancer and HPV. Interview with Dr. Renata Castelli. | UPMC Italy

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection is very common in both women and men, so much so that it is estimated to affect up to 80% of the population at least once in a lifetime. There are about 120 strains of the virus that infect the genital, anal, urethral, and oro-pharyngeal mucous membranes, causing lesions that are often benign.

However, numerous studies show that there is a correlation between papilloma virus and cervical diseases, including cancer. Each year, there are about 3,500 new cases of cervical cancer in Italy.

Prevention through regular screening is essential to identify any lesions and intervene early. We interviewed Dr. Renata Castelli, a specialist in Obstetrics and Gynecology at UPMC Salvator Mundi International Hospital, with long experience in the prevention and treatment of diseases caused by papillomavirus infections.

Dr. Castelli, in what percentage can papilloma virus cause cervical cancer and why is early detection important?

Thanks to awareness and prevention campaigns, today the percentage of cancer incidence has been greatly reduced. In fact, screenings allow us to diagnose so-called "CIN" or dysplasia lesions, which can be mild, medium or severe, at least ten years before the lesion can become cancer.

What is the most frequent and dangerous virus?

The most dangerous viruses are number 16 and number 18. It should be emphasized that the others also have oncogenic risk, especially if they are associated.

Doctor, let's talk about diagnostics. Pap test and Thin Prep: what are the differences?

Thin Prep is an evolution of the Pap test. Specifically, it allows us to soak the cells in a fluid, making it easier to identify any changes and abnormalities. One can, in addition, request further investigations on the same material without having to repeat the sampling.

From what age is Thin Prep recommended?

It is recommended with the onset of sexual activity, regardless of age. From then on, it is recommended to perform it annually at the gynecological visit.

Can HPV testing be considered useful for early detection?

Absolutely. The HPV test is more sensitive and specific than the Pap test and allows for earlier identification of women at higher risk of developing a cancerous lesion. So, we can say that it is really the next step in preventing cervical disease.

Is it painful?

Absolutely not. It consists of a simple sampling that the gynecologist performs on the cervix using a stick.

Doctor, in conclusion, can you tell us how important is the vaccine in papilloma virus prevention?

The vaccine is important but not sufficient, as it does not guarantee absolute coverage. Also, we have no evidence of how protracted its effects are. It is the gynecologist who evaluates the individual case on a case-by-case basis and advises whether and when to get the vaccine.

Learn more about gynecology services at UPMC Salvator Mundi International Hospital.