The Culprit HPV
Human Papilloma Virus commonly known as HPV is a cause of Cervical Cancer and Genital Warts. Unfortunately since there are no distinct symptoms for those positive for HPV or those with an abnormal pap it is important for women to be consistent with their annual exams.
HPV is virus from the Papoviviridae family of viruses and is sexually transmitted disease. Both low risk and high risk strains cause lesions that can cause the growth of abnormal cells. However it is usually persistent infections with high risk strains that are more likely to lead to the development of cancer. HPV strains that lead to warts cause abnormal growth in cells that grow externally compared to HPV strains that lead to cervical cancer. These strains cause the cells to grow abnormally inwards that are usually flat and nearly invisible. These high risk strains include HPV 18, 18, 31, 33, 35, 39, 45, 51, 52, 56, 58, 59, 66, 68 and 73. Furthermore HPV 16 and 18 together responsible for 70 percent of cervical cancers. Having many sexual partners, smoking and hormonal changes are some factors that are considered as High-Risk for HPV infection. Although eighty percent of women do get infected with HPV sometime in their life the immune system is usually able to fight it off. The problem arises when the infection is persistent and the immune system is unable to fight it. It is important to note that even among women who do develop abnormal cell changes with high risk HPV, only a small percentage develop cervical cancer if the abnormal cells are not removed .
Once diagnosed as positive for HPV or/and having an abnormal growth of cells a colposcopy (a biopsy of the affected cervical cells) may be performed. The need for a colposcopy is based on the level of abnormality. The results of the biopsy determine either a need for a re-pap in six months to a year or procedures to treat the abnormal cell growth. Cryosurgery and LEEP (and NO! it has nothing to do with the doc wanting you to jump) are usually recommended as treatment for abnormal growth. Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP) is a painless electrical current that is used to treat abnormal cervical cells. Cryosurgery on the other hand involves the freezing of abnormal cells. Condoms, Paps, Screening for HPV and procedures mentioned above are measures taken to prevent the development of cervical cancer. Gardisil is the vaccine that is currently used for HPV and it is limited to the age group between 9 and 26. For more information talk to your Physician.