The World Health Organization of the United States of America, in their September 2010 report had stated that "The Human Papillomavirus is the cause of cervical cancer, the second most common cancer in women worldwide". Every year there are approximately 10,500 new cases of cervical cancer of which 3900 are fatal (Kumar et al. 717). Cervical cancer is the uncontrolled growth of cells within the lining of a part of the female's reproductive system called the cervix. The formation of the cancer may be a result of infection with the Human Papillomavirus, also known as HPV. Conclusive with medical research, it has been stated that it is important for women to perform routine Pap smear screening and concurrent HPV testing in order to reduce the probability of developing cervical cancer if an active Human Papillomavirus is present in such individuals.
Pap smear and HPV tests are performed in order to detect the presence of precancerous cervical cells indicative of Human Papillomavirus Infection.
Precancerous cervical cells are those that possess abnormal physical characteristics compared to healthy ones. The Pap smear test is performed before a woman shows symptoms of having an infection therefore it is known as a screening test. During this procedure a layer of cells is removed from the surface and inside of the cervix, using an a speculum, then placed on a glass slide and viewed using a microscope for the presence of abnormal or precancerous cells (johnhopkinsmedicine.org). When abnormal cervical cells are found, it is known as a positive pap smear test. Such cells are further tested for the presence of the HPV virus via using the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test to detect the presence of viral DNA or RNA which are molecules that the HPV virus needs to replicate inside the cervical cells.