Cervical Cancer Screening: Pap Smear vs HPV DNA Test

Updated: Nov 9, 2020

Pap smear has been the ‘gold standard’ for cervical cancer testing for more than 60 years. However, a new screening method for HPV through HPV DNA test has started to rival the Pap smear.



Various strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection that cause nearly all cervical cancer cases, have emerged in recent years. Therefore, the HPV DNA test has become more successful in assessing cervical cancer risk than the Pap smear.


HPV DNA Test vs Pap Smear


Both HPV DNA test and Pap smear involve scraping and brushing cells from your cervix.


Pap smear will examine the collected cervical cells for abnormalities, such as cells that show changes that could increase the risk of cervical cancer.


The HPV DNA test will examine the collected cervical cells for the presence of HPV infections and identify the types of HPV virus strains that are most likely to lead to cervical cancer.

In a nutshell, Pap smear only looks for cell abnormalities, while the HPV DNA test looks for viral DNA material that causes cervical cancer.