Can HPV raise my cancer risk?

Can HPV raise my cancer risk?


By Karla Sullivan

More and more studies are suggesting that the human papillomavirus (HPV) could significantly increase the risk for several cancers; not just cervical. Cancer of the mouth, throat and even some parts of the skin are caused by HPV. Now, new research uncovers that people with the virus may be three times more likely to develop esophageal cancer.

According to Mayo Clinic, there are more than 100 varieties of human papillomavirus.  Different types of HPV can cause warts on different parts of your body. For example, some types cause plantar warts on the feet, while other varieties are responsible for the warts that most commonly occur on the hands or face. Not everyone infected with HPV develops cancer. Most HPV is fought off by the individual’s immune system and will go away on its own.

Most cases of cervical cancer are caused by two specific varieties of genital HPV. These two HPV strains usually don’t cause warts, so women often don’t realize they’ve been infected. Early stages of cervical cancer typically show no signs or symptoms. According to the CDC, approximately 10,000 women get cervical cancer in the United States and the main cause is the HPV virus passed from one person to another during sex. Generally 80 percent or more of those who are sexually active will get HPV at one time during their lifetime.

HPV vaccines are given in a series of three shots over six moths. HPV vaccines offer the best protection to girls and boys who receive all three vaccine doses and have time to develop an immune response before being sexually active with another person. That’s why HPV vaccination is recommended for preteen girls and boys at age 11 or 12 years.

It is extremely important for women to have regular Pap tests, and the HPV test which can detect precancerous changes in the cervix that may lead to cancer.

If you have HPV, you want to disclose this information if applying for life insurance since your medical history can easily be evaluated. Depending on the type of HPV, you may choose to wait until the virus is gone. However, you can also select a life insurance plan with no medical exam required.

Contact an insurance agent for the best advice concerning your situation.