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More about HPV - adding to the conversation

Posts: 242
Joined: Feb 2011

Way back when .... 70s and 80s they did not test for HPV.   If a person had an abnormal pap, let's say, squamous atypia, dysplasia or carcinoma in situ .... This is usually associated with HPV.   To add to what Martha outlined in "see these websites"... More than 80 percent of all sexually active people have HPV.   

The vaccine is important for young people to receive.  My opinion.

Sadly, many of our physicians aren't comfortable talking about sex or sexual issues. my doctor said to me, it is likely not HPV related, yet his note in medical record said the contrary...and that "we will test the tumor".  He never did that until I requested my record and and read his notes.   The tumor was positive for HPV 16.  I had an abnormal pap in 1988...never positive for the virus during pap testing with dual pap (cytology with built in HPV) throughout my adult life.   

Please note I left the university cancer center where I got treatment and went to a reputable center where I trust the staff to tell me the truth no matter how "uncomfortable".

The personal nature of anal cancer is one of the reasons it stays in the shadows And remains mis- diagnosed.   And HPV is spread through skin to skin contact ... And migration of the virus in women from vaginal/menstral fluids.  one may not have a history of anal intercourse for the virus to establish itself in other areas.  Also ... A great number of oral cancers are related to HPV due to oral sexual contact.   Remember, most cervical cancers are squamous cell ... Due to HPV.   The virus migrates to vagina, vulva, and Anus...or thru direct skin to skin.   And anal sex is a normal part of many couples sex life. 

Another point,  HPV will clear in most people and not result in cancer.  for some reason, it did not clear in me and you.  as I look back on my life in order to learn and change ... Stress and anxiety were common in my high stress profession ... I think it impacted negatively on my immune system Leaving me at risk for abnormal cell growth.   The past is the key to changing our future.  I now meditate more, worry less and cut myself a break for my "humanity".  Hopefully these changes will help me to be healthier in the future.   It took me two years to begin to see my learning through cancer ... And I'm still not "there".

 okay,  enough there

There is great work being done at UCSF where there is a well-known dysplasia clinic ... One day anal pap will be a more recognized preventative screening.

 Causation is important to understand for future prevention and identification ... We need to recognize cause, however our work is to find a team of physicians we trust, educate ourselves, make decent treatment decisions, reconcile with the past, and move toward a healthy future.   Having been through this terrible journey .... I realize this us not easy. 


Posts: 562
Joined: Apr 2011

Thank you!

Posts: 1122
Joined: Aug 2012

Thank you for this post. Since being diagnosed I have wondered how the heck I got this! I was diagnosed in 2011 and had been married and with thesame man since 1976. I divorced him prior to diagnosis due to his infidelity. I have wondered whether this cancer was the result of his womanizing. I just can't explain it any other way. Is my thinking wrong on this? Could it have been dormant in my body all those decades? I had none of the risk factors at all.

Posts: 242
Joined: Feb 2011

I've been married for 20 years ... Same faithful guy.  however, i was married before and had unprotected sex in my 20s.  Yes, it can take a long time.   The HPV gets in the DNA of the cells and messes it up .... Abnormal cells begin to replicate and are not destroyed by the immune system for some reason .... In time a tumor forms.   It can take  a long time....usually does.  Remember ... It takes years for a normal pap to become abnormal.  


And it is interesting to note the HPV that causes warts is generally not the high risk strain that causes cancer.  So "if" HPV is the culprit behind the cancer you "had" ... There likely were no symptoms.   There are many strains of HPV.


this is a simplistic discussion .... Suffice it to say yes, it can be there and u don't know it until bleeding, itching, etc. unless screened via anal pap ... The same pap we do for cervical cancer.

Please also know I am not suggesting it was your relationship...it's something to think about and maybe a good discussion point for you and your physician or counselor.   

Moving on and healing is so important.  For some that means having answers in as absolute a form as possible.  each of our process so individual ... I love reading your posts and admire your courageous heart.  Xo

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