What’s to Know About HPV & Cervical Cancer?

What is HPV?

HPV stands for human papillomavirus. It is a common sexually transmitted disease that involves over 200 closely related viruses. There are two types of HPV, including:

  • Low-risk HPV that causes genital warts.
  • High-risk HPV that causes cancers.

What is cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer refers to the cancer in the cells of cervix. Cervix is the lower part of the uterus, and it connects to the vagina. Cervical cancer occurs when the cells of cervix grow abnormally and form a tumor. Over time, the cancer cells may spread to other tissues and organs, such as bladder, vagina, rectum, lungs and liver.

Can HPV cause cervical cancer?

Yes. Most cervical cancer results from HPV infections. But HPV infections are not the only cause of cervical cancer, genetic mutations can also lead to the cancer.

HPV is very common. Many people can be infected by the virus but majority of them won’t get cervical cancer. The infections will go away in 1-2 years. However, HPV infections will not disappear for many years in a small group of people and then cause the cells of cervix become cancerous.

Who is more likely to get HPV?

Women with following conditions have a higher risk to be infected by HPV:

  • Have many sexual partners.
  • Early sexual activity.
  • A weak immune system.

What are the symptoms of cervical cancer?

HPV infections can lead to cervical cancer. People with early-stage cervical cancer may not have any symptoms. But symptoms will start to appear over time, including:

  • Vaginal bleeding after intercourse.
  • Pelvic pain or pain during intercourse
  • Vaginal bleeding between menstrual periods.
  • Vaginal bleeding after menopause.
  • Vaginal discharge and odor.

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