Cell Changes and HPV

Women are three times more likely than their male counterparts to die of genital nonmelanoma skin cancer. The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) causes Genital nonmelanoma skin cancer and is also associated with cervical cancer.

Genital skin and mucus warts are not easy to see and do not have any noticeable symptoms. This contributes to them not being detected early. Early detection is important especially if the HPV has progressed to cancer.

Cervical cancer is a slow-growing condition that can take years to progress. This is why women should have annual gynecological exams if they are sexually active or age 21 and older. Pap Smear tests are performed at regular intervals as determined by her health care provider.

Persons Most At Risk for The HPV That Causes Cell Changes

    1. Any sexually active person

    2. A large percentage of people are exposed to someone who has the cell-changing type of HPV, but not everyone, especially those who are male will actually have abnormal cell change – which is also called dysplasia.

    3. The HPV that is associated with cell changes are usually spread by skin-to-skin contact during sex (anal, oral or vaginal). It is rare to contract it through oral sex, but it can happen.

HPV that causes cell changes do not usually cause warts on hands and feet.

When to Screen for Cervical Cancer?

The American Cancer Society states that females should receive their first screening by gynecological exam and Pap Smear Test by age 21, or within 3 years of becoming sexually active (which ever comes first).

If women have had a conventional type Pap smear (where the cell sample is taken and put on a glass slide to be examined) and the test result is “normal” than she should receive Pap Tests once a year as long as results remain “normal”.

If a liquid-based Pap test is used and the result is normal than she should have a screening once every two years.

If a Pap-HPV DNA test is done on women over 30 years of age and the result is normal or negative, then the next screening test should be done once every three years.

There is at present no test that can determine cell changes in men who have been exposed to HPV. The screening tests are designed to detect cell changes in a womans cervix. The skin on a males penis is too thick to test for cell changes in the same manner that a womans cervix is tested.

Treatment

HPV as all viruses do not have cures. What can be treated are the genital warts associated with HPV. Abnormal cells found in the cervix can also be treated and removed. Doing so will lessen the risk of an unexposed partner to being exposed to the cell-changing HPV.

The healthcare provider will consider location, size of the lesion, and previous treatment history, the severity of the test results, the age and or pregnancy status of the patient and the patient and health care provider preferences.