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Human Papillomavirus (HPV) And Cervical Cancer

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) And Cervical Cancer

HPV or Human Papillomavirus Is a group of viruses. These viruses are very common worldwide. There are around 100 different types of HPV. Around 14 of these viruses will cause cancer as they are high risk. HPV is usually transmitted through sexual contact.  Certain types of HPV will cause cervical cancer. there are two types of HPV which will cause around 70% of all cervical cancers as well as cervical lesions that are precancerous.

HPV and Cervical Cancer

HPV has been linked with other types of cancer including vagina, vulva, and anus. In women, cervical cancer is the second most common type of cancer for women that are in less-developed regions. It’s estimated that there around $570,000 new cases of cervical cancer each year. Many of these new cases come from regions that are less developed. In 2018 around 311,000 women died from cervical cancer. More than  85% of the deaths occurred in countries where there was low or middle-income. Cervical cancer prevention includes getting vaccinated against HPV. Precancerous lesions are treated after an individual is screened. The WHO recommends that people get vaccinated against HPV strains 16 and 18.

Women that are over the age of 30 getting screened for precancerous lesions is an effective treatment. This is a cost-effective way to stop cervical cancer before it starts. There are different vaccines for cervical cancer and clinical trials have indicated that they are very effective and safe to take for treating HPV infections. If cervical cancer is caught at an early stage it can be cured.

Understanding HPV

In the reproductive tract HPV is the most common type of viral infection. Most women and men that are sexually active will be infected by this virus at some point and some may be infected repeatedly. The peak time for acquiring this infection is when both men and women are first sexually active. While HPV is sexually transmitted sexual intercourse is not required for transmission. Genital contact that is skin-to-skin is one of the most common modes for transmission of HPV. Many types of the HPV virus don’t cause any problem whatsoever and many infections will clear up within a few months and almost 90% of HPV viruses will clear up within a couple of years. A small portion of these infections will persist and they may turn into cervical cancer. The most common HPV-related disease is cervical cancer almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV infection. Some types of HPV are not cancer-causing but will cause tumors to grow in the air passage or genital warts. for sexually active individuals genital warts are quite common and they are very infectious.

Cervical Cancer and HPV

Many HPV infections will clear up by themselves and many precancerous lesions will resolve on their own. For some women, the HPV infection can become chronic and their precancerous lesions will progress to cervical cancer that is evasive. It is estimated that it takes between 15 to 20 years for cervical cancer to start in women that have a normal immune system. For women that have a weakened immune system, it may take 5 to 10 years such as a woman that has an HPV infection that is not treated.

Risk Factors

There are several risk factors for  the development of cervical cancer

  • They have the right HPV type cervical cancer to start
  • They have a weakened immune system such as those that have HIV or have HPV infections that are persistent
  • They have other sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia or herpes
  • They had a child at a young age
  • They are a tobacco smoker

Screening Importance

There were around 570,000 new cases of cervical cancer in 2018. This represented 7.5% of the cancer deaths for females. In less developed regions of the world, It’s estimated that 85% of cervical cancer patients don’t survive. It is important for young women to get regular screening for cervical cancer. Mini precancerous lesions can be treated at different stages and are treated very successfully. When treatment is given around 80% of cervical cancers are treated successfully.

Summary

The vast majority of HPV viruses don’t cause cervical cancer there is a risk with HPV to develop cervical cancer. If you are a woman and want to limit the chances that you get cervical cancer you should see your physician on a regular basis especially if you have HPV or you have an HPV infection that doesn’t seem to clear up within a reasonable time frame. There are many treatment options for HPV infections and cervical cancer can be prevented.

Colin Wadsworth, BN Nursing

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