What is HPV? Is it a cause of cervical cancer? |
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What is HPV? Is it a cause of cervical cancer?

What is HPV? Is it a cause of cervical cancer?

Dr Charanjit Kaur - Obstetrics & Gynecology
by: Dr. Charanjit Kaur

Sr. Consultant Obstetrics & Gynecology
Paras Bliss, New Delhi

Viral fever was traditionally brushed aside as something mild and transient. But, scientific research has discovered that these viruses if present in the body can fester in the tissues, gradually causing great damage to the host in which it (the virus) stays.

cause of cervical cancer

Human Papilloma Virus infection has a casual relationship with cervical cancer. HPV has more than 100 strains-

High Risk Strains: 16 and 18 cause most of the cases of cervical cancer and genital cancers.

Low Risk Strains: Cause Genital warts especially HPV 6 and 11.

Most sexually active women will contract HPV at some time in their lifetime. Most will never even know it, since it causes no symptom. Often, the body can clear HPV infection on its own with 2 years or loss.

The cancer does not come suddenly. The virus will cause slow abnormal cell changes and eventually can progress to cancer. In fact, researchers say that virtually all cervical cancers are caused by high risk HPV virus. Mode of spread is by genital skin to skin contact, plus by anal and oral sex. If the body has the power to clear the infection, the terminal cells return to normal.

Hence, it is important to catch the infection when the precancerous changes take place, so that treatment can result in cure.

Tests Done:

Regular PAP Smears either conventional or HPV DNA Pap cytology is extremely important for all sexually active girls and women above 30 years of age.

Risk of HPV infections increase with:-

  1. Increased number of sexual partners
  2. Young age, women 20- 24 most likely to be infected.
  3. Women active with single partner but this partner has multiple other partners.

Treatment of HPV Infections:

Having a positive test indicates high risk, alerting the doctor that she will need close evaluation. Frequent testing to look for evolving or settling tissue changes is done. Abnormal tissue has to be treated by surgery, laser treatment and freezing.

Genital warts should also be treated along the above lines.

Preventions:

Methods:-

  • Avoid genital contact.
  • Mutually monogamous relationships can reduce the risk.
  • Vaccination against HPV- given to young girls before sexually active + women less than 44 years.
  • Regular Pap smears and gynae checks.
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