HPV, or Human Papilloma Virus, has been in the news a great deal with the development of the Guardasil vaccine, the quadrivalent vaccine against HPV types 6,11, 16, and 18, however, most of my patients are unfamiliar with this virus, its prevalence and its potential to cause cancer.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported in the Journal of Infectious Disease, that:
Human papillomaviruses (HPVs) are members of the Papillomaviridae family of DNA viruses. More than 100 types have been identified; ∼40 types infect the anogenital region. Anogenital HPV types have been further classified into low-risk types (e.g., 6 and 11), which are associated with anogenital warts and mild dysplasia, and high-risk types (e.g., 16, 18, 31, and 45), which are associated with high-grade dysplasia and anogenital cancers, such as cervical and anal carcinoma. Anogenital HPV infections are the most common sexually transmitted infection; an estimated 6.2 million persons are newly infected every year in the United States [1, 2]. Most infections are asymptomatic or subclinical and become undetectable over time. (J Infect Dis. (2006) 194 (8): 1044-1057.)
Since many sexually active people are exposed to HPV during their sexual encounters beginning at a young age. High risk individuals are females with a history of an abnormal pap smear, cervical dysplasia, vaginal dysplasia, vulvar dysplasia or cervical cancer and men that have sex with men (MSM). If you are at high risk for HPV, you should get screened – it may just save your life!
The screening process involves a non-invasive swabbing of anal opening and anal canal. It is painless, quick and easy. The anal pap smear or anal cytology procedure will text for abnormalities of the cells in the anal canal as well as for high risk HPV including 16 and 18, the strains that may lead to cancer.
If the test detects dysplasia or a process where the healthy cells of the anal canal undergo abnormal cell changes which may lead to cancer, then a procedure called a High Resolution Anoscopy may be recommended to further evaluate the perianal tissue or the tissue outside the anal opening as well as the tissue in the anal canal. The tissue will be stained with acetic acid and lugols solution and viewed under a surgical microscope. Biopsies will be taken and the abnormal cells will be obliterated with thermal energy or heat, allowing new fresh healthy cells to grow.
Contact the Los Angeles and Orange County Proctology Institute and make an appointment in one of our locations in Beverly Hills, Newport Beach or Huntington Beach today if you are at high risk for HPV.