Watch out, HP virus! Danger Cervical Cancer

HPV that has something to do with cervical cancer, right? For many, the knowledge is enough to HPV just up to here, some don’t even know it. Because when you hear the word “cancer,” you like to ignore it. And yet… HPV affects every human being. Because most of those affected have no idea that HP -viruses slumber in them because they often show no symptoms.

It is estimated that about 80 percent of all women are affected by HPV affected. In many cases the infection heals unnoticed by itself, but it can also be less mild and lead to malignant tissue changes. Reason enough to take a closer look at the topic. Here you will learn how to deal with HPV what you notice the infection from and how you protect yourself.

Magnified under the microscope HP -viruses. © Kateryna Kon / Shutterstock.com

What is actually HPV ?

Human papilloviruses (HPV ) are the most common sexually transmitted viruses in the world. Today, more than 200 types of virus are known, 40 of which attack the genitals and anus. A distinction is made between low risk and high risk types. Depending on the type of virus, an infection can have different consequences. For example, low-risk viruses can lead to genital warts or genital warts in the neck and throat area.

High-risk types are less harmless and can cause precancerous lesions and cancer.

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How often is HPV ?

HPV is quite common. Experts assume that about every third woman between 20 and 25 years of age is infected with high-risk types. About 80 percent of all women are infected at least once in their life with a HP -virus infected. “Probably every sexually active person who does not live exclusively monogamously with his or her partner from the very beginning, whether man or woman, at some point in their lives makes one or more HPV -infections,” explains Dr. med.

Christian Albring, President of the Professional Association of Gynaecologists.

Is it possible HPV and not notice?

Not noticing is even the rule. Christian Albring: “Some HPV -types do not cause symptoms for many years. If the body does not manage to fight them off permanently, the infected cells change and become cancer cells. This too is often undetectable for many years because it happens inside the vagina and at the cervix. These changes can only be detected by a gynaecologist during a cell smear.”

Which diseases solve HP -Viruses off?

Depending on the risk type of the virus, different diseases can be caused by an infection:

  • Ordinary skin warts (papillomas): They usually appear on the face, hands and feet and are harmless. Papilloviruses, which cause common skin warts, do not usually infect the genital area.
  • Benign genital warts (genital warts, condylomas): Genital warts are caused by low risk types. The best known are HPV 6 and HPV 11.
  • Cell changes in the area of the genitals and anus: HP -viruses of the high-risk type trigger cell changes. They can also heal without treatment. In some cases, however, they develop into precancerous stages of cancer. Cervical cancer is the most common cancer caused by HPV induced disease.

Condoms can prevent the transmission of HP -preventing viruses. © George Rudy / Shutterstock.com

How will HPV transferred?

HPV is mainly transmitted during vaginal or anal intercourse. However, infection can also occur during oral sex in the mouth and throat. “Individual infections through shared towels or mattresses are known and infection through a sauna session is also conceivable but very unlikely,” explains Dr. Sylke Schneider-Burrus, Chief Physician Dermatosurgery at the Berlin Havelklinik. And: During a birth, a transfer from mother to child can occur.

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Some people have a higher risk, HPV to get?

“An increased risk that HPV -infection have developed cancer, smokers, people with frequently changing sexual partners and with early onset of sexual activity or with an immunodeficiency,” explains gynaecologist Albrig.

How can I recognize HPV ?

“Either it’s an infection with HP -types that cause warts. You see them, of course. The infections with the other HP -viruses cause no symptoms, no itching, no discharge, no pain, no smell, until the time when cancer has already developed from them,” said the gynaecologist. And that is what makes the infection so treacherous.

“You often don’t even see the changes during the gynaecological examination for several years. Therefore, a smear is always taken and examined under the microscope for suspicious cells. In future, the material from the smear will also be used to test for HPV -viruses, but only in women over 35; this does not yet make sense in younger women, as the HPV -detection is still far too often positive but without significance,” explains Albrig.

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What are condylomata?

An infection with HP -viruses of the low risk type can lead to genital warts, the so-called condylomas. Often an infection is months or even years before the first symptoms appear. “Genital warts initially manifest themselves as pin-sized nodules, which can grow up to 4 centimetres in size, pink to dark brown cauliflower-like lobules,” explains Schneider-Burrus.

The warts are primarily located in the genital area, i.e. on the penis, on the labia or in the vagina. “But warts can also form on the skin in the groin area or on the anus and can also appear in the anus itself, where they go unnoticed for a long time,” says the doctor.

In the worst case HPV cause cervical cancer. © Evan Lorne / Shutterstock.com

How are genital warts treated?

There are various methods available for the treatment of genital warts: “Local therapies with drugs that cause inflammation – and thus the body’s reaction to the infection – are conceivable. However, minor surgical procedures such as sclerotherapy, freezing or laser ablation are also possible,” explains the dermatologist.

However, once treated, it does not mean that genital warts cannot reoccur. “The risk of recurrence of genital warts is very high. Especially after surgical therapy, it is not unlikely that genital warts will reoccur.” This is because, unlike conservative therapy, no inflammatory reaction of the immune system is caused and the pathogens are therefore not actively combated by the body itself.

“In the case of extensive findings or infestation of the anal canal, treatment exclusively with conservative therapies is often but not possible. Then a combination of both procedures is recommended. For example, an operation can be supplemented by subsequent ointment therapy, which reduces the risk of recurrence of the disease,” says the physician.

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Does each HPV -infection to cancer, for example cervical crescent?

No. For a precancerous stage or cancer to develop, certain conditions must be met. Only the high-risk type of the HP -virus can lead to a precancerous stage, and the infection must last longer. Next, cell changes must form from this persistent infection. Finally, only a fraction of these cell changes lead to cancer.

But still: according to estimates by the Cancer Information Service, about 10 out of 100 women remain infected with a high-risk virus for longer. In most women, the infection heals on its own.

“In cancer screening, we find abnormal smears in about 1 to 2 percent of women, and only a small percentage of these become malignant. However, the findings can then be monitored regularly and very small measures can be taken to stop the development of the disease before it can develop into cancer,” explains Albrig.

Can men also HPV get?

Yes, they are also carriers of HPV -viruses. However, secondary diseases, such as cancer of the penis or anal carcinomas, are much less common.

Not only young women, but also young men should protect themselves against HPV vaccinate. © Ravipat / Shutterstock.com

How can I protect myself HPV protect?

The recommendation is very clear: “By vaccination, preferably before the very first sexual contact. Vaccination is recommended from the age of 9 for girls and boys” says the gynaecologist. Important: condoms do not offer 100 percent protection. Albrig: “The condom protects quite well against syphilis and gonorrhoea, but not reliably against HPV -infections.” Of course, a condom is always a good idea, especially with changing sexual contacts.

The vaccination recommendation applies to boys and girls. The vaccination protects only against the most common HPV -types that are in circulation. There is a small percentage of HPV -types that the vaccination does not protect against. However, this is not a free ticket: you should still go for cancer screening.

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What kind of doctor makes a HPV -vaccination?

Usually gynaecologists or paediatricians vaccinate. But general practitioners and internists can also vaccinate. By the way, you can also be vaccinated at an advanced age. However, the vaccination does not help with existing infections, but only protects against the following.

How much does a HPV -vaccination?

“The health insurance companies pay for the vaccination up to the age of 18, some even beyond that,” explains Albrig. If the insurance does not cover the costs, the price per vaccination is between 170 and 200 euros. Two vaccinations are necessary, at the age of 14 three vaccinations are recommended.

Can a HPV -vaccination from cervical cancer?

“Yes, the modern HPV -vaccination protects against infection with 9 different HPV -types. Together they account for 80 to 90 percent of all HPV -induced cancers, not only cervical cancer, but also cancer of the vagina, outer genital area, anus and oral cavity,” explains Albrig.

Why opponents of vaccination are wrong

The HPV -infection is underestimated. Although many heal HPV -infections on their own, but not all of them, and they can lead to serious secondary diseases such as cervical cancer. An infection often shows no symptoms for a long time and remains undetected. Early vaccination can protect against cancer and precancerous lesions. Let us advise you in your gynaecological practice!