What is the Correlation Between HPV and Cancer?
You have probably heard that HPV screen can help curb cervical cancer but have no idea why. The human papillomavirus or HPV is a group of over 200 types of viruses that are common throughout the world. About 13 types of HPV are known as cancer causing with over 40 types of HPV being easily spread through direct sexual contact. The HPV virus is one of the most common sexually transmitted disease in the USA. Aside from causing cancer, HPV can also cause warts in different parts of the body and precancerous lesions.
HPV screening is particularly important because many people do not know they have it. Sometimes HPV infections do not cause any obvious symptoms or health complications. It may go unnoticed for years. The spread of HPV from one person to another occurs through sexual contact as well as contact with skin and mucous membranes of infected people to those of uninfected people.
HPV causing cancer
High Risk HPV is the kind of human papillomavirus that causes cancer. These 13 High risk HPVs have been identified through research that shows 33,000 new cases of cancer every year are found in body parts where HPV is often found. HPV is attributed to causing over 26,000 of these cancers with cervical cancer being the most commonly associated with HPV among women. As for men, HPV can cause oropharyngeal cancers. Cervical cancer is a key focus when it comes to HPV screening since it is the second most common cancer in women with many fatalities resulting from it.
Who is at risk?
Almost all sexually active people will be infected by the HPV virus at some point in their lives; some may even be repeatedly infected. When it comes to HPV, penetrative sex is not necessary for transmission. Even skin-to-skin genital contact can cause transmission from one person to the other putting everyone at risk.
Besides cervical cancer and oropharyngeal cancer, HPV is also associated with other cancers such as anal, vulvar and vaginal cancer in women along with penile cancer in men.
HPV vaccines have been developed to prevent the development of these cancers from HPV infection. However, these vaccines are only effective if administered early in life. Pre-teen boys and girls should receive vaccination to prevent HPV infection. Teenagers can also be vaccinated. Elisa test and screening tests such as pap tests are recommended for women above 21 years to identify the risk of cervical cancer early.