Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"If a woman has HPV does that mean she will definitely have cancer?"
I don't know if I have HPV, but I am sexually active so the odds are good I've heard. Does this mean I will definitely develop cervical cancer?
HPV stands for human papilloma virus. It is a virus that causes typical warts, genital warts, and has been shown to be associated with cervical cancer. It is true that HPV is very common and probably infects half or more than half of sexually active women at some point in their lives. While untreated HPV infections can lead to cervical cancer, the likelihood of this is quite low. The reason cervical cancer is so rare in the USA despite the fact that HPV is so common is because of our rigorous screening techniques. If you get your annual pap smears, your doctor will catch cancer being caused by HPV before ti becomes a problem. In addition, if you are young, you are likely to clear any HPV infection before it becomes a problem. The bottom line is, that as long as you have good follow up with your primary care physician or OBGYN, you will not develop cervical cancer that goes undetected. You should start by scheduling an appointment with your primary care physician or OBGYN. You can discuss the HPV and cervical cancer screening method and when your next pap smear is due. In addition, you can discuss how to prevent or reduce the likelihood of contracting HPV sexually.
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