HPV and Cancer Facts
HPV stands for human papillomavirus. It is a very common virus. We worry about HPV because some types can cause cancer. Other types can cause skin warts on the hands, feet, and genitals. Here, we focus on the types that can cause cancer.
- Try to avoid getting HPV by getting vaccinated and using condoms (see above).
- Go for cervical screening if it’s available. Cervical screening aims to detect the cell changes caused by HPV so that the abnormal cells can be removed before they can turn into cancer. Many countries offer cervical screening- ask your healthcare provider for more information.
- Screening for changes caused by HPV in the anus is also available in some locations. Anal screening is relatively new and is still very limited- ask your healthcare provider for more information.
- If you smoke, try to stop. Smoking can make it harder for your immune system to get rid of HPV.
- If you have any symptoms or changes to your body that are unusual for you, such as pain in the anal or genital area, a new growth or lump, or bleeding, get them checked by a healthcare provider.
Cervical cancer screening includes three steps:
- The screening test. This is the first step of the process, aimed at picking up cell changes.
- The diagnostic test. If cell changes are found, further tests are needed to diagnose cervical dysplasia.
- Treatment of cervical dysplasia (cell changes).
During the screening test, a healthcare provider takes a sample of cells from the cervix using a small swab or brush. This is tested for HPV or cell changes (or both). The procedure is very safe and generally painless but may be uncomfortable for some.
The World Health Organization recommends cervical screening from age 30, but it starts earlier in some countries. Screening usually stops around age 65. Anyone with a cervix should have regular screening. The goal of cervical screening is to pick up cell changes caused by HPV and treat them before they become cancer. Talk to your healthcare provider about the screening schedule that is right for you.
HPV Cancer and You.
HPV is a very common virus - almost all of us will have it at some point. If you have HPV, it doesn't mean that you will get cancer, but it does increase your risk of certain kinds of cancer.
More HPV Cancer Stories
Everything you need to know about HPV from people you can trust. Our information is provided by leading scientists global experts in HPV.
Create your social media message for International HPV Awareness Day
We can all take action to reduce the harm of HPV. Our social post builder is an easy way to share a simple personal message about how vaccination and screening means #onelessworry for the world
Your HPV Story
Everyone is affected by HPV - either directly or indirectly. Sharing our stories is a great way to raise awareness of the impact of HPV and to reduce the stigma that increases everyone's risk.