With thousands of new cases each day the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is very common and is a direct precursor to several different types of cancers. It’s time for HPV 101.
Human papillomavirus is an infection spread by skin to skin contact of the genital region. Intercourse is the most common way to get HPV, but isn’t necessary to contract the virus. There are over 100 different types of HPV, and at least 40 of those are known to cause cancer. It is the main cause for cervical cancer, however HPV is also linked to vulvar, vaginal, anal, penile, mouth, and throat cancers. About 14 million new cases of HPV happen each year, with over half of those occurring in the 15-24 year old age group.
The good news is that most people quickly clear the virus from their bodies. They usually don’t even know they have it. There are no initial symptoms and is only detected as part of routine gynecological tests for women. There is no approved test for men. However, in other people HPV can eventually cause genital warts and cancer. Two strains of the virus (16 & 18) are estimated to be responsible for 70% of cervical cancer cases. That equates to about 500,000 new cases and 270,000 deaths worldwide each year. There are about a dozen other high-risk HPV strains that collectively account for the other 30% of cervical cancers.
Because this virus has a bigger impact on women than men, Women’s Cancer & Surgical Care is highly invested in getting information and education out there. We want you to know HPV 101 so you can protect yourself and your loved ones. So what can you do?
- Get Checked – maintain the recommended preventative care/screening schedule for your gender and age group
- Get Vaccinated – the CDC recommends the vaccine for girls and boys at the age of 11-12 (older children may still be able to get the vaccine, check with your doctor)
- Get Safe – always use safer sex methods to avoid exposure to HPV
As always, we are here if you have any questions or concerns.