Genital HPV Infection - Fact Sheet
Genital warts (warts on the genital areas);
Recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (RRP), a rare condition in which warts grow in the throat;
Cervical cancer, cancer on a woman's cervix; and
Other, less common, but serious cancers, including genital cancers (cancer of the vulva, vagina, penis, or anus), and a type of head and neck cancer called oropharyngeal cancer (cancer in the back of throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils).
All cases of genital warts and RRP, and nearly all cases of cervical cancer, are caused by HPV. A subset of cancers of the vagina, vulva, anus, penis, and oropharynx, are caused by HPV. The types of HPV that can cause genital warts are not the same as the types of HPV that can cause cancers.
Cervical cancer usually does not cause symptoms until it is quite advanced. For this reason, it is important for women to get regular screening for cervical cancer. Screening tests can find early signs of disease so that problems can be treated early, before they ever turn into cancer.
Other cancers caused by HPV might not have signs or symptoms until they are advanced and hard to treat. Other HPV-associated cancers include some cancers of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus, and oropharynx. RRP is a condition in which warts grow in the throat.
RRP can occur in children (juvenile-onset) and adults (adult-onset). These growths can sometimes block the airway, causing a hoarse voice or trouble breathing.
Warts can appear within months after getting HPV.
Cancer often takes yearseven decadesto develop after a person gets HPV.
There is no certain way to know which people infected with HPV will go on to develop cancer or other health problems. However, persons with weak immune systems (including persons with HIV) may be less able to fight off HPV and more likely to develop health problems from it.
Genital warts: About 360,000 persons in the U.S. get genital warts each year.
Cervical cancer: About 10,300 women in the U.S. get cervical cancer each year.
Other cancers that can be caused by HPV, including some vaginal, vulvar, penile, anal, and oropharyngeal cancers: Each year in the U.S., HPV is thought to cause an estimated
2,100 vulvar cancers,
500 vaginal cancers,
600 penile cancers,
2,800 anal cancers in women,
1,500 anal cancers in men,
1,700 oropharyngeal cancers in women,* and
6,700 oropharyngeal cancers in men.*
*Note: Other factors, notably tobacco and alcohol use, may also play a role with HPV to cause these cancers. About 21,000 of these cancers are potentially preventable by HPV vaccines.
Recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (RRP) is very rare. It is estimated that about 820 children get juvenile-onset RRP every year in the U.S.
HPV leads to genital warts, which can grow during pregnancy. Women with genital warts during the late stages of pregnancy are more likely to have children with warts in the throat, a condition called recurrent respiratory papillomatosis; however, this is a very rare condition.
Pregnant women can develop cervical cell changes due to HPV. These changes can be detected through routine cervical cancer screening. Women should get routine cervical cancer screening, even during pregnancy.
HPV vaccines are recommended for 11- or 12-year-old boys and girls. HPV vaccines are safe and effective, and can protect males and females against some of the most common types of HPV that can lead to disease and cancer. HPV vaccines are given in three shots over six months; it is important to get all three doses to get the best protection. Boys and girls at ages 11 or 12 are most likely to have the best protection provided by HPV vaccines, and their immune response to vaccine is better than older women and men.
o Girls and women: Two vaccines (Cervarix and Gardasil) are available to protect females against the types of HPV that cause most cervical cancers. One of these vaccines (Gardasil) also protects against most genital warts, and has been shown to protect against anal, vaginal, and vulvar cancers. Either vaccine is recommended for 11- and 12-year-old girls, and for females 13 through 26 years of age who did not get any or all of the shots when they were younger. These vaccines can also be given to girls beginning at 9 years of age.
o Boys and men: One vaccine (Gardasil) is available to protect males against most genital warts and anal cancers. Gardasil is recommended for 11- and 12-year-old boys, and for males 13 through 21 years of age who did not get any or all of the shots when they were younger. Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men should receive the vaccine through age 26 years. Males 2226 years of age may also get the vaccine.
For those who choose to be sexually active, condoms may lower the risk of HPV. Condoms may also lower the risk of developing HPV-related diseases, such as genital warts and cervical cancer. To be most effective, condoms should be used with every sex act, from start to finish. HPV can infect areas that are not covered by a condom - so condoms may not fully protect against HPV.
People can also lower their chances of getting HPV by being in a faithful relationship with one partner; limiting their number of sex partners; and choosing a partner who has had no or few prior sex partners. But even people with only one lifetime sex partner can get HPV, and it may not be possible to determine if a person who has been sexually active in the past is currently infected. Because HPV is so common, and almost every sexually-active person will get HPV at some time in their lives, it is important to protect against the possible health effects of HPV.
Cervical cancer by getting routine screening if they are a woman aged 2165 years (and following up on any abnormal results);
Oropharyngeal cancers by avoiding tobacco and limiting alcohol intake; and
Genital warts by using condoms all the time and the right way.
Genital warts can be removed with treatments applied by the provider or the person himself/herself. No one treatment is better than another. Some people choose not to treat warts, but to see if they disappear on their own. If left untreated, genital warts may go away, stay the same, or grow in size or number.
Cervical cancer is most treatable when it is diagnosed and treated early. Women who get routine Pap tests and follow up as needed can identify problems before cancer develops. Prevention is always better than treatment. For more information visit www.cancer.org.
Other HPV-related cancers are also more treatable when diagnosed and treated early. For more information visit www.cancer.org .
Recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (RRP) can be treated with surgery or medicines. Curing RRP can sometimes require many treatments or surgeries over a period of years.
Information is from the CDC. For more information?