Human Papillomvirus - Information and Treatment Options
Human Papillomvirus (HPV) is a very common virus that can affect both males and females but is often is harmless with no symptoms. While there are more than 100 types of HPV, which typically cause skin warts or plantar warts, 13 types are classified as high-risk HPV that can cause cervical cancer. Another 20 types can cause problems in the vaginal area, such as external genital warts, but do no cause cancer. These are referred to as low-risk HPV.
Most women's immune system prevents HPV from causing abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix. However, some women do develop abnormal cells on their cervix or genital warts, which can usually be treated by a gynecologist.
Forty types of HPV are transmitted through sexual contact, via contact with infected skin, mucous membranes, or bodily fluids.
There are currently two vaccines that are effective against high-risk HPV types 16 and 18, which cause 70 percent of the cases of cervical cancer. One of the vaccines is also effective against two low-risk types 6 and 11, which cause 90 percent of the cases of external vaginal warts.
Aracea Women’s Care recommends that patients get the vaccine to protect against future exposures, even if they currently have HPV or have had it in the past. Even with the vaccines, there are still 11 other types of high-risk HPV, so patients must still get regular pap smears.
In cases where HPV causes abnormal cell changes that may lead cervical cancer, gynecologists at Aracea Women’s Care can employ the following treatment options:
- Cervix cryosurgery – a treatment used to freeze and destroy abnormal tissue in the cervix
- LEEP (Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure) – a thin, electrified wire used to remove abnormal tissue