HPV or the human papillomavirus affects a lot of people. In the United States alone, about 20 million have HPV. HPV causes genital warts or cell changes in the genital areas which can lead to cancer, as its strains can cause 70 percent of cervical cancers. Women usually have genital warts growing in the vagina walls, anal canal, cervix or the part between the genitals and anus. Men may have it at the shaft or tip of the penis, anus or scrotum. Some infected people can be unaware and spread the virus to others.
HPV (Human Papillomavirus) Symptoms
HPV symptoms include warts in the genital area. The appearance of HPV infected genital warts can be flat or raised, large or small, pink or flesh-colored. They stay on the scrotum, thigh, cervix, penis, anus or groin. Most of the types are either low-risk or precancerous.
When patients undergo testing and are confirmed to have infected, their physician may recommend close monitoring of the infection to detect either it is cancer-causing or not. A possible sign of the infection leading to cancer is the abnormal changes of the cells in the cervix are.
- Different incarnations of genital warts
HPV (Human Papillomavirus) Causes
HPV causes warts and more than 40 of its various strains hit the genital area. It is then spread through sexual contact. The mouth or throat may also be HPV infected, when the person had oral sex with an infected partner. Factors contributing to HPV are unprotected sex with numerous partners and being sexually active at a young age.
- Direct skin-to-skin contact with someone who has HPV
HPV (Human Papillomavirus) Diagnosis
HPV is diagnosed through examination. To check whether the infection is cancerous, doctors will recommend frequent Pap tests in women to check for unusual changes of the cells in the genital parts, where doctors swab the cells from the cervix, for laboratory testing. The lab test will look for the DNA or the genetic material of the HPV within the cells of the body to detect the cancerous types. The doctor may also do colposcopy, where he looks at the vagina, vulva and cervix with a special magnifying glass.
- Pap test
- HPV DNA test
For the meantime, there are no tests for HPV infections in men to determine the types that lead to cancer.
HPV (Human Papillomavirus) Treatment
Doctors do not recommend aggressive treatment where the warts are treated immediately as they could still emerge and another treatment would be needed later. HPV can clear out on its own and has many treatment options. Furthermore, new vaccines are currently used to reduce HPV infections. HPV infection in some women clears in about two years.
Treatment of HPV infection, which aim is to remove the abnormal cells, and the cells containing the HPV, can be four kinds:
Surgeries and therapy treatment for HPV
- Cryotherapy uses liquid nitrogen to freeze the abnormal cells while the chemical trichloroacetic acid is applied to the wart’s surface.
- LEEP or electrocautery: removes the cells with an electrical current.
- Laser therapy: A strong light is used to destroy the cells.
Cream treatment for HPV
- Prescription cream: A medicated cream is applied to the area of the warts to help remove them.
It should be noted that women who conceive or are pregnant should consult the doctor before treatment as it may affect pregnancy.