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National Cervical Cancer Coalition

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 Post subject: scared and confused
PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2008 1:50 pm 

Joined: Sun Jul 20, 2008 4:40 pm
Posts: 9

I originally posted this on another list, but received no response. Would really appreciate some feedback. Thanks.
I am a 60 year old woman who has only had one sexual partner - my husband. He passed away 8 years ago. A couple weeks ago I went to a new doctor for my annual and agreed to have the "cervical cancer screening" in addition to the pap smear. My world has been upside down since then. Received a phone call from the nurse that simply said I had HPV, my pap was fine, and should schedule another pap in 6 months. I called back at least 3 times in the next hour with no time did the doctor get on the phone and at one point the receptionist simply answered my question with "it's high risk". Of course I had already run to the internet for info which is making me crazier. My husband had what was called a "fungus" when we got married (41 years ago) and I do remember him having warts, however we were told it wasn't a problem. From what I have read the strains that cause warts do not cause the high risk strain I have which may lead to cervical cancer. I don't want to wait 6 months! Thank God I found this forum so I have someone to "talk to". Am going to a different gyne next week to get her input. Want to be pro-active. Also the little problem of the fact that I have recently started dating and thinking that maybe I could be with someone else...I guess that's not going to happen either.
I would appreciate ANY help or support right now. I wake up shaking in the morning 'cause it's on my mind almost all the time.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 11:22 am 
Site Admin

Joined: Wed Oct 04, 2006 4:08 pm
Posts: 2122
Location: North Carolina
Hi newone,

Thanks for your post. Well, it's easy to see why you're confused and upset, so let's chat a bit.

HPV tests that can find HPV directly are increasingly being used along with Paps for women over age 30, so many women find themselves in your situation. These tests are very accurate but not perfect, and in a few cases can render either false negatives or false positives (this only happens with a small percentage of cases, though).

Sometimes HPV is only detected many years after a woman was exposed to the virus - this is certainly not unheard of. Very, very few cases of "high risk" HPV lead to cervical cancer, especially in women who have the virus detected but have normal Paps. The important thing is to go for follow up exams as directed.

The vast majority of women who test positive for HPV on a DNA test will eventually test negative, so ask your provider if repeating the test at some point might be helpful.

Keep in mind that virtually everyone who has ever been sexually active has had HPV at some point, it's just that most of them don't know it (if you had come along a generation earlier, before HPV tests, you'd probably have never known, either!). The virus is seldom dangerous, most often doesn't cause visible symptoms and, as mentioned earlier, is often cleared by the immune system.

Let us know if you have any other questions, and check in anytime.


ASHA Moderator

PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 8:14 pm 

Joined: Sun Jul 20, 2008 4:40 pm
Posts: 9
Thank you so much for your reply. It really helps to know that there's someone "out there" I can discuss this with. Don't feel comfortable talking to a friend about it...even though I know I did nothing "wrong". Actually less concerned with the cervical cancer risks since I've had normal paps for the past 41 years (EVERY year). However...there's a man who is very important to and we may be on the verge of becoming intimate. We were very close about a year ago and decided to "just be friends" at that time. I could never keep this information from him but I don't know at what point to bring it up. I'm actually supposed to see him after I speak with a second gyne next week. This is still like a nightmare to me. I've read many posts re: this problem but if you could respond to mine I would greatly appreciate it. It's just so husband has been my ONLY sexual partner and he passed away almost 9 years ago. Now when I think that maybe I should go on with my life, I find out I have HPV. Didn't even know it existed 3 weeks ago! Thanks for any help and support.

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