Understanding HPV

Approximately 80 per cent of people will contract the human papillomavirus (HPV) at some time in their lives. The established causal link between HPV and cancer, along with a significant rise in HPV-driven oral cancer, has led to an increased relevance to dental professionals and their patients.

HPV infects the skin and the cells lining body cavities and is most commonly sexually transmitted between hosts. There are hundreds of different forms of the virus, approximately 13 of which are believed to cause cancers. During infection, HPV causes increased division of skin cells, creating new, infected cells which perpetuate the infection. Despite the high rate of prevalence, for the majority of those affected, the body is capable of fighting off the infection and no symptoms present. For a smaller amount of the population, this increased skin growth can manifest into warts. And for those infected with one of the high risk strands of HPV, and for whom the infection persists, the virus can cause damage to the cell DNA, potentially leading to the development of a cancer.

The human papillomavirus is associated with the development of a number of anogenital cancers, most notably cervical cancer. Less well known…

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