Tag Archive for: HPV

Since the beginning of 2020, when early cervical cancer screening in Germany was supplemented by a routine HPV test for women over 35, more people have been confronted with a positive test result. First, it is important to mention: This is not a reason to panic. A positive HPV test result is not to be equated with a precancerous stage or even cancer. Rather, most sexually active people become infected with human papillomavirus (HPV) at least once in a lifetime. In 90 percent of all cases, the infections heal on their own. If an HPV test is positive, this does not directly require a complex treatment. At first, only the control rhythm changes: Instead of three years, another HPV smear is carried out after twelve months. The first thing to do is to keep calm. (We’ll discuss how to get certainty quickly at the end of the blog post).

What does HPV positive mean?

A positive HPV test indicates a clinically relevant HPV infection on the cervix. This is associated with an increased risk of developing a tissue modification. These changes develop very slowly and over the years. A one-time positive HPV test therefore says nothing about cancer – it only detects a virus infection1.

If a renewed HPV smear is also positive after one year, a so-called colposcopy follows within three months. A special magnifying glass is used to clarify whether there are any changes in the tissue2.

In around ten percent of those infected, the body cannot successfully fight HPV on its own. Accordingly, tissue changes may develop that correspond to precursors of cervical cancer or may develop in the course of cancer3. In numbers, in Germany this applies to 4,500 people out of up to 500,000 who receive a conspicuous test result every year. It is therefore important to take precautions.

Differentiation between high and low risk HPV types

Over 200 different HPV types are now known. Cervical cancer or genital warts are caused by around 40 HPV types. They are divided into two categories4:

  • The low-risk types can cause bothersome and recurring genital warts. These can be treated well with various treatment options (e.g. ointments, icing, laser therapy).
  • If one of the high-risk types is detected, regular follow-up checks for cell changes are essential. The high-risk HPV types can lead to cancer, especially on the cervix. In addition, they are a possible trigger for head-and-neck tumors.

In general, it should be noted that an HPV infection itself cannot be treated. However, the respective effects should be kept in mind and tissue changes should be treated.

HPV: Partnership not necessarily affected

The initial diagnosis of an HPV infection as part of the new preventive care system often raises questions. Since regular tests for HPV in men are not currently planned, infections are primarily detected by cancer screening in women. It is important to know that the infection may have been present for many years or decades. No test procedure can answer the question of when an infection occurred. It also plays no role in the course of the normally harmless infection. The question of who infected whom in a partnership is also difficult to clarify. This is because the virus is widespread in the population as a whole. Accordingly, HPV might be noticed despite a firm partnership.

In new partnerships, the risk of infection can be reduced, for example, by using condoms during sexual intercourse. Another preventive measure is to be vaccinated against various cancer-causing HPV types5.

Quick certainty through GynTect

Of course, the waiting time between the check-ups can be stressful. A study co-authored by our managing directors Dr. Alfred Hansel and Dr. Martina Schmitz showed that the psychological stress involved in cervical cancer screening can even lead to signs of post-traumatic stress disorder6.

In order to resolve these unclear situations as quickly as possible, we have developed GynTect. The molecular biological cervical cancer test is able to detect cancer in its preliminary stages. A smear at the gynecologist is sufficient for the test.


[1] Projektgruppe ZERVITA (Hrsg.): HPV-Test.

[2] Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum (DKFZ) (2021): HPV-positiv: Was nun?

[3] bis [5] Dr. med. Katharina Anstett (2020): HPV-Nachweis (Positive Testung auf ein Humanes Papillomavirus).

[6] Jentschke, M., Lehmann, R., Drews, N., Hansel, A., Schmitz, M., Hillemanns, P. (2020): Psychological distress in cervical cancer screening: results from a German online survey. Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 3/2020, 699-705.


Picture: Image Point Fr / Shutterstock.com

Human papillomaviruses are a group of widespread viruses. In most cases, people affected by the virus are unaware of the infection. However, certain types of HPV are responsible for the development of tumours, such as cervical cancer.

Almost everyone gets infected with HPV at some point in their lives. HP viruses are mainly transmitted by skin-to-skin contact, but also by sexual intercourse. The infection often remains undetected because no symptoms are noticed and the infection heals by itself. However, harmless or unpleasant warts, such as genital warts, can occur. In a few cases and with certain types of HPV, chronic HPV infection occurs, which can last for several years. This can lead to malignant cell changes. The consequence may be precancerous lesions or cancer. In particular, HP viruses are responsible for the development of cervical cancer. However, tumours in the mouth, vagina, penis and anal area can also be caused by human papillomaviruses.

High-risk HPV types

Not all HP viruses are causing cancer. To date, more than 200 HPV types have been conclusively identified, according to the Robert Koch Institute. They can be classified into five different groups: Alpha, beta, gamma, mu and nu HPV. Only the alpha-HPV group can infect the skin and mucousal cells in humans.

In general, these types can be subdivided into high- and low-risk types. The low-risk types (“low risk” viruses) can cause warts in the genital area. However, a life-threatening disease can be rarely feared when infected with low-risk HPV types. In contrast, high-risk types (high-risk viruses) can cause malignant cell changes, i.e. cancer.

Protection against HPV infection

Vaccination against HPV is the most effective protection against an HPV infection. Not even condoms provide sufficient protection during intercourse. Children aged nine and older can be vaccinated against certain high-risk HPV types. In general, vaccination should preferably be applied before the first sexual intercourse. This is true for both boys and girls alike, because vaccination not only protects against cervical cancer. There are also other types of cancer associated with HPV, as mentioned above. In addition to vaccination, women should visit their gynaecologist regularly for cancer screening.

Jena, 20. February, 2019 – The test for early detection of cervical cancer GynTect® may now also be performed on the cobas Z480 analyzer, a widely used quantitative PCR (QPCR) system from Roche Diagnostics. This is now possible through an extension of the GynTect® CE IVD mark (CE mark for in vitro diagnostics). The biotech company oncgnostics GmbH is developer and provider of GynTect®.

GynTect® allows a fast and reliable clarification, if a patient with abnormal Pap smear findings or an HPV infection, is about to develop or already has cervical cancer. GynTect® allows to detect modified, esp. methylated DNA regions. Methylation of these DNA regions specifically occurs in cervical cancer.

Performance of GynTect using the Cobas Z480
Two steps are required for the performance of GynTect®. In the first step a chemical treatment with bisulphite fixates the DNA methylation of the diagnostic material. For the detection of the marker regions a PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) is required. The cobas Z480 Analyzer by Roche Diagnostics allows the performance of such a diagnostic PCR. Based on the data obtained in the PCR, the GynTect® results are derived. Only originally methylated DNA regions present in the sample are amplified during the PCR. This procedure is termed methylation-specific PCR (MSP).

More laboratories may perform GynTect® now
“By now GynTect® could only be performed on the ABI7500 Real-Time PCR system from Life Technologies. Extension of the CE IVD mark now allows to run the test on the cobas Z480 PCR system as well. With its widespread availability many more laboratories now can perform GynTect® without any additional expenses”, Alfred Hansel, co-founder and CEO of oncgnostics said.

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