Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Testing and Treatment
The most common sexually transmitted disease is the human papillomavirus or HPV. There are many types of the virus, and some can cause genital warts. Other types of HPV can cause cancer. Over 79 million Americans have the virus, with people in their late teens and early twenties making up the majority of those affected.
HPV vaccines can prevent some of the health problems caused by the virus. HPV can cause cervical cancer, cancer of the vulva, vagina, penis or anus. These can be avoided by getting the HPV vaccine early, by 11 or 12 years of age, and by age 26 for those who have not been vaccinated. Women from ages 21 to 65 are advised to get screened for cervical cancer routinely.
There is no cure for HPV; however, there is treatment for the warts it can cause. Warts will often disappear on their own, but they can reappear in the same or different area. Some over-the-counter treatments are available, like salicylic acid for common warts. Other treatments are prescribed by your doctor.
Surgical removal of warts may be recommended if they do not respond to medication. Cryotherapy, or freezing warts with liquid nitrogen, is one method. They can also be burned off with an electrical current or laser surgery can be used.
Women will need an examination of the cervix if the Pap test comes back positive or the HPV test is abnormal. Any areas that look abnormal will be biopsied and checked for precancerous conditions. Removal of precancerous lesions is advised.
Health Problems Caused by HPV
Cervical cancer and genital warts are health problems caused by HPV. Thousands of people get genital warts from this virus, although the numbers have greatly decreased thanks to the HPV vaccine. According to the CDC, about one-tenth of sexually active American adults will have genital warts at any given time.
Cervical cancer is a more serious condition that can be brought on by HPV. Annually, about 12,000 new cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed. Even with screening and treatment, over 4,000 women die annually from this type of cancer.
Other cancers caused by HPV affect women and men. About 19,000 women and 12,100 men are diagnosed, and these are the people who were diagnosed and treated for genital warts. There are many others who may have HPV-related cancers who are undiagnosed.
Find out more about HPV and its prevention and diagnosis. Contact Dr. Michael and schedule an appointment for screening and information.