Human Papillomavirus (HPV) | Diagnosis & Tests


How does the doctor test for HPV?

The doctor rubs a small swab against your cervix or anal canal and puts the swab in a tube of special liquid. This tube goes to a lab. If the lab finds HPV in the liquid, your doctor will know what HPV type you have.

If the type of HPV you have is a type that causes cancer, your doctor may want to perform another type of test, called a colposcopy. (A colposcope is a special magnifying lens that is used to look at your cervix. An anoscope is used to look at your anal canal.) The doctor will cut a small bit of tissue from your cervix or anal and check it for signs of cancer.

If you are a man who has sex with men or you are a man who is HIV-positive, you might be a candidate for an anal Pap test. If you have warts on your anus or penis, talk to your doctor about having them removed and alert your sexual partner that you may have HPV.


HPV Testing in the Evaluation of the Minimally Abnormal Papanicolaou Smear by BS Apgar, M.D., M.S., and G Brotzman, M.D. (American Family Physician May 15, 1999,

Written by editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 01/14
Created: 05/99