Sin Hang Lee, Jessica S. Vigliotti, Veronica S. Vigliotti and William Jones
The newly gained knowledge of the viral etiology in cervical carcinogenesis has prompted industrial interests in developing virology-based tools for cervical cancer prevention. Due to the long incubation period from viral infection to developing an invasive cancer, a process whose outcome is influenced by numerous life-style and genetic factors, the true efficacy of the genotype-specific human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines in cervical cancer prevention cannot be determined for another 30 years. Most HPV DNA test kits designed to replace the traditional Papanicolaou (Pap) smears for precancer detection lack the analytical sensitivity and specificity to comprehensively detect all potentially carcinogenic HPVs and to perform reliable genotyping. The authors implemented the classic nested PCR and Sanger DNA-sequencing technology for routine HPV testing. The results showed a true negative HPV PCR invariably indicates the absence of precancerous cells in the cytology samples. However, 80.5% of single positive HPV-16 tests and 97.3% of single positive HPV-18 tests were associated with a negative or a largely self-reversible Pap cytology. Routine sensitive and reliable HPV type-specific or perhaps even variant-specific methods are needed to address the issues of persistence of HPV infection if a virology-based primary cervical screen is used to replace the Pap cytology screening paradigm.