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For Patients of Brigham & Womens

What is HPV?

HPV stands for Human Papillomavirus. It's an infection that's spread by skin-to-skin sexual contact. Eighty percent of sexually active men and women are infected with HPV, frequently with no signs or symptoms.

How often should I be screened for cervical cancer?

Start screening at age 21.Frequency of screening depends on your history of PAP smears. If you have ever had an abnormal screening, you will be followed more closely. Visit your doctor every year and keep a record of your PAP history.

What are the symptoms and treatment for HPV?

Often, people never know they have HPV and may pass it to a partner without realizing it. There is no treatment or cure for HPV infection, though warts and cancer caused by HPV can be treated.

How is HPV connected to Cancer?

Although many people have and clear HPV, sometimes it causes cells to change and cancer develops. HPV is connected to cancers of the cervix, head/neck, penis, vagina, vulva and anus.

What are the symptoms of oropharyngeal cancers?

Cancers of the Neck/tongue/tonsils--symptoms: persistent sore throat, lump in neck, difficulty speaking or swallowing.

What are the symptoms of cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer symptoms: abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge, bleeding after menopause, pain during sex.
However, many patients have no symptoms.

How can I reduce my risk of getting cervical cancer?

  1. Visit your gynocologist yearly. Ask about PAP and HPV tests.
  2. Know your partner's sexual history.
  3. Don't smoke.

How do I reduce my risk of other HPV-related cancers?

  1. Visit your doctor yearly, or schedule an appointment if you experience symptoms.
  2. Have a dental cancer exam twice yearly.
  3. Don't smoke and limit alcohol intake.