There are about 40 types of HPV that can infect the genital areas of men and women. Most HPV types cause no symptoms and go away on their own. But some types can cause cervical cancer in women and other less common genital cancers— like cancers of the anus, vagina, and vulva (area around the opening of the vagina). Other types of HPV can cause warts in the genital areas of men and women, called genital warts. Genital warts are not a life-threatening disease. But they can cause emotional stress and their treatment can be very uncomfortable.
Every year, about 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and almost 4,000 women die from this disease in the U.S. In Hungary we have 1100 cervical cancer diagnosed in a year.
Despite of the possibility of the HPV infection screening the Pap test is still the standard way to check for any cervical cell changes!
A Pap test is usually done as part of a gynecologic exam. After the Hungarian guidelines we recommend that women have a Pap test once every year, beginning about 1 years after they begin to have sexual intercourse, but no later than age 21.
Because the HPV test can detect high-risk types of HPV in cervical cells, this test is a useful addition to the Pap test to help health care providers decide which women with atypic cervical changes need further testing, such as colposcopy and biopsy of any abnormal areas. In addition, the HPV test can be a helpful addition to the Pap test for general screening of women age 30 and over.
What is HPV vaccine and how does it work?
The human papillomavirus vaccines that are currently available in Hungary provide long-term protection against HPV types 6, 11, 16 and 18.(HPV16 and 18 are responsible for 60-70% of cervical cancer cases).
And again: vaccination does not replace routine screening for cervical cancer. The vaccine only protects from those HPV types whose surface protein it contains. Moreover, it does not protect from an already existing HPV infection. The vaccine does not provide protection against some of the HPV types that cause genital warts nor against other sexually transmitted diseases.
The HPV vaccination procedure
The vaccine is delivered through a series of three injections. The second dose is administered one month after the first one, and the third dose follows five months after the second. Women who received the first dose should receive the full series.
The vaccine used by the Rozsakert Medical Center is stored in controlled conditions, keeping the relevant regulations.
T. Elekes MD.