- by Dr. Murali Subramanyam
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- Feb 09 2017
What is Cervical Cancer?
It is a viral infection that is passed between people through the skin to skin contact. There are more than 100 varieties of HPV, 40 of which are passed through sexual contact and can affect your genitals, mouth, or throat. It is the most common STI that affect both men and women.
HPV types fall into two categories:
Low-risk HPVs: This type of HPV do not cause cancer but can cause skin warts or around genital parts. HPV type 6 an 11 cause 90% of all genital warts and it also causes recurrent respiratory papillomatosis, a less common disease in which benign tumors grow in the air passages leading from the nose and mouth into the lungs.
High-risk HPVs: It can cause cancer. More than 12 HPV high-risk types have been identified. Two of these are HPV 16 and 18. It can cause cervical cancer, anal cancer, oropharyngeal cancers and other rarer genital cancers.
It can be caused by direct sexual contact, such as oral sex. As it is skin to skin infection, intercourse is not required to contract the infection.
- Genital warts
- Warts in the throat
There is DNA test for HPV approved by FDA in 2014. The new guideline by FDA recommends that women have their first Pap test or Pap smear, at the age of 21 and be tested for HPV at the same time. Women at the age of 2 to 29 should have just a Pap test every three years. Women's ages 30 to 35 should then be screened every five years with Pap and HPV tests at the same time.
If Pap test shows even one of 15 strains of HPV that can lead to cancer than the doctor may monitor cervical changes. A doctor may want to do follow-up testing with colposcopy.
There is no treatment for HPV as most cases go away on their own.
HPV vaccination before sexual activity can reduce the risk of infection by the HPV types targeted by the vaccine. There are medicines approved by FDA to prevent HPV infection. These vaccines can provide strong protection against new HPV infections, but they are not effective at treating established HPV infections or disease caused by HPV.
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