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HPV: Uncovering the Cancer Risk

HPV or Human Papilloma Virus  is the name for a group of viruses that affect your skin and the moist membranes lining your body, for example, in your cervix, anus, mouth and throat.

According to Dr. Konstantin Zakashansky, a gynecological oncologist at Mount Sinai  “There are more than a hundred subtypes of HPV virus, some of which can cause warts on different parts of the body, while 15 are identified as high risk and may lead to cancer.”

More than one-half of all women between the ages of 14 and 59 catch a genital HPV

Almost 100% of cervical cancers are due to HPV, prevention and early detection of this virus is the key to fighting cervical cancer. HPV is so common that at least 50% of sexually active men and women get it at some point in their lives.

Calculating the risk factor

While the majority of women clear HPV through their own immune system within two years, a minority develop a persistent infection. Over time, persistent HPV can lead to a precancerous condition called dysplasia, which most commonly occurs on the surface of the cervix. HPV is passed on through genital contact, most often during vaginal and anal sex. HPV may also be passed on during oral sex and genital-to-genital contact.

HPV & Cervical Cancer

Almost 100% of Cervical Cancer cases are due to HPV. The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that in 2012, approximately 12,170 new cases of invasive cervical cancer will occur in the U.S. and 4,210 women will die from the disease. Worldwide, cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women; it is estimated to cause over 470,000 new cases and 233,000 deaths each year.

 Two new studies published in the journal Gynecologic Oncology find that screening for human papillomavirus infection alone provides more accurate results for both human papillomavirus infection and cervical cancer screening than the alternatives of a Pap or a co-test for these conditions.
Preventing HPV Exposure

HPV is a scary topic for many women, but when we catch it early, we can treat, cure and even prevent it from becoming a serious problem

It is important to realize that neither vaccine provides complete protection against all cancer-causing types of HPV, so routine cervical cancer screening is still necessary.

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