HPV

HPV

May 26th 2019

HPV (Human Papilloma Virus)

More than 30 strains of the human papilloma virus (HPV) can affect the genitals. Of those, approximately 13 are considered "high risk" because they can lead to cervical cancer. Find out how HPV can be prevented and treated.

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HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) Menu

cancers such as penile, anal, and head and neck.

How is HPV related to cervical cancer?

Certain strains of HPV can cause changes in the cells of the cervix, a condition called cervical dysplasia. If it is not treated, dysplasia can advance to cervical cancer. HPV is almost always the cause of cervical cancer. However, just because a woman has HPV or cervical dysplasia does not necessarily mean she will get cervical cancer.

Regular Pap tests are the best protection against cervical cancer. The test detects pre-cancerous changes and cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is almost always preventable or cured if pre-cancerous changes are detected and treated early, before cancer develops.

Before age 30, HPV infection is usually transient (gets better on its own). By age 30, finding HPV during Pap screening can help determine how often to be screened. The absence of high-risk HPV types usually means that a woman is at low risk for developing cervical changes related to the risk of cervical cancer. In this case, the period between Pap test screenings is usually five years for most women.

If a woman tests positive for high-risk HPV types, her healthcare provider will perform more frequent Pap tests to check for any cell changes that might be pre-cancerous or that need to be treated .

What is cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer is a condition in which the cells in the lining of the cervix — the narrow, outer end of the uterus — change and grow very fast, producing a grouping of cells called a tumor. This condition usually develops over time. It can affect women of any age, but it is most common in women in their mid-40s. A type of virus, called HPV, is the cause of most cases of cervical cancer.

How do you get human papilloma virus (HPV)?

Genital HPV is spread through contact with (touching) the skin of someone who has an HPV infection. Contact includes vaginal, anal, and oral sex. Some types of HPV cause genital warts, which are hard, rough lumps that grow on the skin. Anyone who is sexually active can get HPV and genital warts.

In women, genital warts most often appear in the following areas of the body:

  • On the vulva (the outer female genital area)
  • In or around the vagina
  • In or around the anus
  • On the groin (where the genital area meets the inner thigh)
  • On the cervix

Symptoms

HPV may not cause symptoms at once, but they can appear years later. Some types can lead to warts, while others can cause cancer.


Warts

Common symptoms of some types of HPV are warts, especially genital warts.

Genital warts may appear as a small bump, cluster of bumps, or stem-like protrusions. They commonly affect the vulva in women, or possibly the cervix, and the penis or scrotum in men. They may also appear around the anus and in the groin.

They can range in size and appearance and be large, small, flat, or cauliflower shaped, and may be white or flesh tone.

Other warts associated with HPV include common warts, plantar, and flat warts.

Common warts - rough, raised bumps most commonly found on the hands, fingers, and elbows.

Plantar warts - described as hard, grainy growths on the feet; they most commonly appear on the heels or balls of the feet.

Flat warts - generally affect children, adolescents, and young adults; they appear as flat-topped, slightly raised lesions that are darker than normal skin color and are most commonly found on the face, neck, or areas that have been scratched.

Cancer

Other types of HPV can increase the risk of developing cancer. These cancers include cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis, anus, and oropharynx, or the base of the tongue and tonsils. It may take years or decades for cancer to develop.

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