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Infectious Diseases

Human papilloma

07/02/2001

Question:

I recently found out I have Hpv on my cervix. I have been going for frequent check-ups. Where else can HPV affect? Can hpv affect the pancreas?? I am very concerned since I know that pancreatic cancer has a poor prognosis.

Answer:

Human Papilloma Virus(HPV) is a rather frequent infection. An estimated 10 to 30% of the US population is infected. The data is quite more accurate among women, because the yearly pap smear screening readily detects a substantial number of cases, while men are only detected when they become symptomatic i.e. develop genital warts, which is a minority of the cases. HPV is also associated with other conditions vulgar or skin warts, and laryngeal papillomas (warts). Skin warts are acquired by skin contact, laryngeal warts are characteristically acquired during birth, but can also be acquired during adult life, and genital HPV is acquired through sexual contact. Some HPV strains have been associated with development of cervical Cancer, and the detection of cervical HPV infection requires treatment and surveillance by a gynecologist. There are reports of rare conditions of skin cancer associated with skin HPV infections. Some male penile cancers and pre-cancerous conditions (Bowen`s disease, Queyrat erythroplasia) may be associated with HPV infection. Notice that most HPV-related cancers are in the body surface. To my knowledge, pancreatic cancer is NOT associated with HPV infection. It is also noteworthy to define the medical term `association`. To say that a given cancer, i.e. cervix cancer is associated with HPV infection means that infection with HPV increases the risk of developing cervical cancer, but the fact some one has HPV infection does not imply that person will eventually develop cervical cancer: the majority of women infected with HPV DO NOT develop cervical cancer, and some women with cervical cancer have no HPV infection.

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Response by:

Francisco   Gomez, MD Francisco Gomez, MD
Assistant Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati