HPV can cause cervical and other cancers, including cancer of the vulva, vagina, penis, or anus. It can also cause cancer in the back of the throat (called oropharyngeal cancer). This can include the base of the tongue and tonsils. Cancer often takes years, even decades, to develop after a person gets HPV.
High-risk HPV infections that persist can cause cancer: Sometimes HPV infections are not successfully controlled by your immune system. When a high-risk HPV infection persists for many years, it can lead to cell changes that, if untreated, may get worse over time and become cancer.
Depending on the type of HPV that you have, the virus can linger in your body for years. In most cases, your body can produce antibodies against the virus and clear the virus within one to two years. Most strains of HPV go away permanently without treatment.
Although most HPV infections clear up on their own and most pre-cancerous lesions resolve spontaneously, there is a risk for all women that HPV infection may become chronic and pre-cancerous lesions progress to invasive cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer is the only type of cancer caused by HPV that can be detected early by a recommended screening test. The other types of cancer caused by HPV may not be detected until they cause more serious health problems. HPV vaccination prevents infections that cause these cancers.
HPV Can Lead to Autoimmunity
For example, research shows that HPV infection is directly associated with the onset of several oral autoimmune diseases, including: oral lichen planus (OLP) mucous membrane pemphigoid (MMP) pemphigus vulgaris (PV)
Anyone who has had sex can get HPV, even if it was only with only one person, but infections are more likely in people who have had many sex partners. Even if a person delays sexual activity until marriage, or only has one partner, they are still at risk of HPV infection if their partner has been exposed.
You're contagious for as long as you have the virus — regardless of whether or not you have symptoms. For example, even if your genital warts have disappeared, you can still spread the HPV that caused them if the virus is still in your body. Once your immune system destroys the virus, you're no longer contagious.
HPV-related cancers often take years to develop after getting an HPV infection. Cervical cancer usually develops over 10 or more years. There can be a long interval between being infected with HPV, the development of abnormal cells on the cervix and the development of cervical cancer.
About 10% of women with HPV infection on their cervix will develop long-lasting HPV infections that put them at risk for cervical cancer. Similarly, when high-risk HPV lingers and infects the cells of the vulva, vagina, penis, or anus, it can cause cell changes called precancers.
Most people may get a throat infection from the virus that goes away, but some people may go on to develop cancer in the throat or tonsils some 20 to 30 years later.
Almost all cervical cancer is caused by HPV. Some cancers of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus, and oropharynx (back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils) are also caused by HPV. Almost all cervical cancer is caused by HPV.
If they have low risk HPV, warts may develop on the cervix, causing irritation and pain. In some people, these warts could cause bleeding. High risk HPV usually presents with no initial symptoms. However, if the virus remains within the body for many years, infected cells can change and begin to divide uncontrollably.
HPV Very Rarely Becomes Cervical Cancer
For 90 percent of women with HPV, the condition will clear up on its own within two years. Only a small number of women who have one of the HPV strains that cause cervical cancer will ever actually develop the disease.
But here are some instances in which HPV might not go away: If you're immunosuppressed — including people who have AIDS or are transplant candidates. If you have low-risk HPV that doesn't go away, it can transform into genital warts. In that case, genital warts are treated by cutting them out or burning them off.
Most men who get HPV never have symptoms. The infection usually goes away by itself. But, if HPV does not go away, it can cause genital warts or certain kinds of cancer.
If you test positive for HPV 16/18, you will need to have a colposcopy. If you test positive for HPV (but did not have genotyping performed or had genotyping and tested negative for 16/18), you will likely have a colposcopy.
It is possible to spread the virus through intimate contact that does not include intercourse, such as genital-to-genital contact or oral-to-genital contact. So, it is possible that someone who has not had intercourse could be infected with HPV and spread it to others.
Although most people clear HPV within 2 years, the virus can stay in your body for many years – even decades – without causing any problems. That means you may never know you had it. In some people, HPV can show up on your cervical screening results or start to cause problems years later.
Options include freezing (cryosurgery), laser, surgical removal, loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) and cold knife conization.
Once established, persistent HPV infection leads to changes in the release of proinflammatory cytokines, which in turn may alter the infiltration of immune cells, causing inflammation.
past infection with HPV was significantly more common in patients with RA than in controls. The results confirm the arthritogenicpotential of HPV and are consistent with the hypothesis that rheumatoid arthritis may develop in a genetically predisposed patient after an arthritogenic insult such as an HPV infection.
There are also types of HPV that affect the skin on other parts of the body, mostly on the hands and feet. These types can cause minor problems, such as skin warts and verrucas. This page focuses on genital and oral HPV, as these types can cause cancer.