Nobody looks forward to their annual exam. Well, I guess I should say most people don't, and nobody that I know. However, it is something that I've diligently penciled in and RSVP'd yes to each year since turning 18. Now that I'm in the 30+ age bracket, I fall smack in the category of women who are urged to advocate for their own health by requesting the digene HPV test in addition to their regular pap smear. Since 1943, when Dr. Papinacolaou (you always wondered why it was called a pap, right?) developed it, pap smears have helped with early detection and treatment of cervical cancer dropping it from the second leading cause of cancer deaths in American women, to the fifteenth.
QIAGEN has designed the first FDA-approved test that can detect high risk, namely cancer-causing, forms of HPV. By requesting the test to be performed, you're not subjecting yourself to an extra scrape, or more pinches, because the lab is able to use the same sample collected for your pap test. Most offices don't routinely order the HPV test unless a pap comes back with an inconclusive result, so it's up to you to request that it be ordered no matter the pap result for 'extra piece of mind.'
As with any test or procedure you have performed, it's important to check with your insurance company so that you can find out if the test is covered under your plan, if you'll have to pay part of the cost, and if that cost is worth it to you to have a more complete understanding of what your risk for developing cervical cancer may be.
Having personal experience with people in my life who are having to face much bigger decisions after being diagnosed with cervical cancer, I feel that it's important to get the word out to women. Look at the website, arm yourself with information so that when you talk to your healthcare provider, you can make a joint decision that's in your best interest. The HPV Test website is a wealth of information, and is available in several languages.