Understanding the Human papillomavirus (HPV) and its link to Cervical Cancer

Author: FITivate | Published date: January 6, 2022 | Category: Medical

What is Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)

  • Group of viruses that affects both males and females. There are 100 varieties of HPVs with 40 of them transmissible through sexual contact.
  • 85% of people will get HPV at some point of their life.

How HPV is transmitted

  • Transmitted through genital, skin-to-skin contact during sexual activity. Very rarely, during delivery from the infected mother to the baby
  • HPV CANNOT be passed by sitting on toilet seats or touching the door knobs

Higher risk of infection

  • When engaging in multiple sexual partners
  • Weakened immune system due to HIV / AIDS or immune suppressing drugs

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and Cervical Cancer

Most HPV infections clear up on their own, with 80% - 90% recovery within 2 years

  • HOWEVER, certain HPV types can cause persistent infection leading to cancer and other diseases over time
  • Almost all cervical cancers are linked to genital infection with HPV
  • Sub types 16 & 18, 70% of the time leads to Cervical Cancer and Sub types 6 & 11, 90% of the time leads to Genital Warts.
  • It can also cause several other types of cancers, such as anal cancer, mouth cancer, throat cancer, vaginal cancer, vulvar cancers and penile cancer.

HPV has no treatment or cure

  • Best way is to get vaccinated
  • HPV vaccines prevent certain types of HPV viruses which includes those linked to HPV-related cancers
  • Speak to your family physician for suitable vaccinations
  • It can be done in your nearest family clinic
  • Potentially life saving as it can prevent cervical cancer

HPV Vaccinations

  • Approved for use in females aged 9 to 26 years years old
  •  The vaccines are most effective if given before first sexual exposure
  • Women who are sexually active may still benefit from the vaccine, as they may have yet been exposed to the HPV sub-types
  • Even with vaccinations done, STILL go for regular pap smear or HPV DNA testing
  • HPV vaccines can protect against cervical cancer but does NOT mean you will not get it.... REGULAR SCREENING IS STILL MANDATORY : Pap smear (Women 25 - 69 years old) and HPV DNA test (Women from 30 years old)

By : Dr Chen Yiming

Family Physician, MBBS (Singapore), GDFM (NUS), GDFP Dermatology (NUS)



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