HPV in men
Most of the available information surrounding the Human Papillomavirus is concerned with its effect on women – this is largely due to the role HPV plays in the development of cervical cancer. However, hpv infection in men can cause health problems for them as well as their partners which makes it essential that men understand the virus and how to reduce the risk of infection.
HPV in men and cancer
Just as HPV infection in women increases the risk of cervical cancer so HPV in men can increase the risk of cancers in the penis, scrotum and anus. Cancers resulting from HPV infection are not extremely common but genital warts, around the penis, vagina or anus, may often develop.
HPV infections are seen more frequently in those individuals who are sexually active and appear to occur in the first few years of sexual activity. HPV infection is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United Kingdom. The highest rate of infection is seen in men between the ages of twenty and twenty four and women between sixteen and nineteen.
There are more than one hundred strands of HPV with over forty of them designated as being high risk for genital or cervical cancer. Although cancer of the anus or penis is relatively rare, particularly in healthy men, HPV in men does put them at higher risk of developing either of these conditions. Nevertheless there are over 900 cases of diagnosed anal cancer annually and less than 500 cases of penile cancer diagnosed.
Individuals who take part in receptive anal intercourse appear to be at greater risk of HPV infection and subsequent development of anal cancer. HIV patients are also at increased risk of developing anal cancer.
Other strands of hpv in man will rarely result in the development of cancer but may well cause genital warts to appear.
Symptoms of HPV in men
High risk HPV strands implicated in the development of cancer do not generally cause any symptoms in either men or women. Genital warts may be noted as a symptom of low risk strains but not in those strands that are known to be cancer causing.
Testing for HPV in men
In order to diagnose genital warts in men the medical practitioner will carry out a physical examination of the genital area in order to check for warts, however, the warts may not always be visible to the naked eye and healthy skin may be mistaken for a wart.
Currently there is no test for high risk hpv in men. There is, however, a campaign for gay and bisexual men, already at higher risk of developing anal cancer, to undergo anal smear tests.
Doctors may endeavor to treat any problems resulting from an infection caused by the HPV – but without symptoms there is no available treatment.
Genital warts may be treated with the use of prescription, topical creams or be surgically removed or frozen away. Genital warts frequently disappear on their own which leads to reluctance in some doctors to treat them. Warts tend to appear gradually over a fairly long period of time – treating the m as soon as they appear may mean that another treatment is required at a later date.