Does HPV Cause Cervical Cancer?

>> Thursday, June 11, 2015

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HPV or Human Papilloma Virus, which is a sexually transmitted virus which has over 100 different types. Some can cause visible warts, while others are not visible to the naked eye, but can cause cancer to mucous membranes like the cervix, labia, anus, rectum, mouth, throat or penis.

Many of you wrote because you had mothers who had cervical cancer. This may have worried you for a long time because you don't know what it means about your own risk for getting cervical cancer. Well, the good news is that, unlike other cancers like breast and ovarian, cervical cancer is not passed on genetically. In fact, it is sexually-transmitted HPV that can cause this type of cancer. So your mother's history of cervical cancer has nothing to do with whether you will ever get it or not.

HPV is what can cause cervical cancer, and you only get HPV if you are sexually active. The virus is actually so tiny that it can actually slip through the small, naturally-occurring pores in a condom, thus women can get it despite how careful they are being. It is estimated that 80% of women will have some strain of HPV in their lifetime.

Women who get yearly pap smears will be able to detect HPV infection early. Through the pap smear, it can also be identified as high or low risk type & any visible condyloma (warts) can be documented & removed.

If you do have an abnormal pap smear with high risk HPV that is the type that can lead to cervical cancer, it can be treated & removed from your cervix. Women who see their gynecologist, and follow-up for treatment when needed, will clear up the infection long before it has a chance to become cancer.

Next week we will want to discuss how you can keep from getting HPV and treatments for those of you who already have it.

I hope this helped clear up some of the confusion surrounding HPV & cervical cancer.
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