Primary care for you and your family, close to home.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) describes common viruses—usually sexually transmitted—that can affect the genitals and, sometimes, the mouth or throat. It is the most common sexually transmitted infection. HPV should not be confused with herpes or HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, as it causes different symptoms and health problems. In fact, different versions of HPV can lead to different symptoms and health conditions.
Low-risk HPV can lead to genital warts, while higher-risk forms of the virus can cause cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina and anus in women. HPV can cause cancer of the penis and anus in men. In rare cases, a pregnant woman with HPV can pass the virus to her baby during delivery, in which case the child can develop Juvenile-Onset Recurrent Respiratory Papillomatosis (JORRP).
Most people who contract HPV do not show symptoms or health problems. Often, the body’s immune system will clear out the virus naturally within two years. For higher-risk forms of HPV, such as those that can cause cancer, visible signs may not appear until the condition is in an advanced state and can only be diagnosed by health care professionals, such as your Wellstar physician.
Symptoms of HPV can include:
These risk factors could increase the likelihood of infection:
HPV is spread through genital contact, most often during vaginal and anal sex and, sometimes, through oral sex. Even if an infected partner exhibits no signs or symptoms, HPV can be transmitted. The only 100% effective prevention method is sexual abstinence.
You can lower your chances of getting HPV through several methods.
Currently, Wellstar and other health care providers routinely screen for cervical cancer. Besides visual inspections, there are no routine screening tests for other HPV-associated afflictions or cancers, but you should continue regular check-ups with your Wellstar physician. Two tests can help prevent cervical cancer or find it early:
If screening tests or check-ups reveal abnormal results, your Wellstar physician will perform further evaluations regarding HPV.
Presently, there is no treatment for the virus itself. The majority of women have a healthy immune system, which helps them clear the virus from their bodies within 18-24 months.
There are treatments for the problems caused by HPV. In every case, your Wellstar physician will help you weigh the benefits of each treatment approach and make an experienced recommendation for the best outcome. You can feel confident your decision will be based on both your input and the expertise and recommendations of your experienced physician.
An initial viable option in dealing with genital warts is to not treat them. An aggressive treatment plan at the first sign of genital warts might eliminate some, but not those that continue to emerge. In many cases, the warts may disappear on their own. Untreated genital warts, it should be noted, do not turn into cancer.
When active treatment becomes necessary, warts can be removed by the patient with topical medications. The two options are:
A Wellstar health care provider can also administer removal treatment with the options including:
After abnormal cervical cells appear on a Pap Test, they can become normal over time. But at other times, they can develop into cancer. If they remain abnormal, your Wellstar professional can engage in treatment to prevent them from becoming cancerous. Such options may include surgery, laser treatment or freezing. This depends on the severity of the cell changes as well as your age and medical history. Thus, it remains critical that patients with abnormal cervical cells follow up with testing and treatment as recommended by their Wellstar physicians.
Cervical cancer, as with most cancers, is most treatable when it is diagnosed and treated early. Treatment, which may include surgery, depends on the severity of the cancer as well as your age, past medical history and other test results, which may include a cervical biopsy or a colonoscopy, which employs a specially designed microscope to examine the cervix.
These cancers are most treatable when they are diagnosed and treated early. Treatment, which includes possible surgery, depends on the severity of the cancer as well as your age, past medical history and other test results.
Recurrent Respiratory Papillomatosis (RRP) can be treated with surgery or medicines. Sometimes, it can take many treatments or surgeries over a period of years to get rid of RRP successfully.
Wellstar’s world-class, community-based physicians utilize state-of-the-art medical centers and hospitals with the latest technologies and medical resources. Our clinicians are dedicated to:
The Jean and Mack Henderson Women's Center at Wellstar Kennestone Hospital helps to inform women about personal and family-related health care issues, including information about HPV and HPV-related illnesses. This hospital-based center has free literature on women's health, web-accessible computers for health care research and a variety of health-related books, DVDs and videos.