Parenting has its own challenges at any stage, be it a newborn stage, toddler phase, or teen. As a mom of two teenagers, I ensure that they are mentally strong enough to tackle future problems on their own and physically strong too. If you are the parent of a teenager, it’s time to make sure they are equipped to prevent cancer. Many types of HPV (human papillomavirus) pose a risk of cancer. In this post, I am sharing everything you want to know about HPV and its prevention.

What is HPV and how common it is?

HPV (Human papillomavirus) is the most commonly transmitted viral infection of the reproductive tract. Almost all sexually active people are infected with HPV within months to a few years of becoming sexually active. Around half of these infections are with a high-risk HPV type.

 Who is at risk?

  • One can get HPV by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the virus. HPV can be passed even when an infected person has no signs or symptoms.
  • A weak immune system – If one’s immune system is weak from illness, conditions like HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), or taking immunosuppressant medications.
  • Skin damage – Warts are more likely to occur where the skin has been cut open or injured.
  • Touching infected surfaces – Touching a wart or a surface that HPV has come into contact with, like a pool or shower, can increase the likelihood of infection 2

I always make sure that my daughter’s vaccination charts are up to date and that they get timely vaccines.
When I visited my child’s pediatrician about her vaccine schedules, she told me about the HPV vaccine. This is usually the last vaccine mentioned in the schedule also known as the ‘cervical cancer vaccine.
The pediatrician informed me that the HPV vaccine prevents around 80% HPV related cancers and diseases including cervical cancer, anal cancer, vaginal cancer, and vulvar cancer. It also protects against genital warts.
Getting your children vaccinated at the right ages can not only help them stay healthy far into adulthood but it is the most effective approach to prevent serious problems like HPV-related cancers later in life.

When can your child get HPV Vaccine?

Consult your doctor, as they will equip you with the correct information about the recommended age to take the HPV vaccine for your child.

You can also consult the experts available at about the right ways for HPV prevention.

If required, seek immediate medical attention.

Although there is no treatment for the HPV virus, there are therapies for the health issues that HPV can bring. Your doctor might prescribe medicine to help you get rid of genital warts. In most cases, warts fade away, maintain similar size, or grow in number if left untreated.

Precancerous symptoms can be detected with proper checking.

HPV is the cause of almost all cases of cervical cancer. Doctors can identify issues before cancer diagnosis, thanks to frequent Pap testing and follow-ups as required. You can get a colposcopy if your doctor advises it. This is a simple treatment that employs a magnifying lens to examine for extremely minute irregularities on the cervix that aren’t visible to the naked eye. A DNA test and Pap smear will aid your doctor in detecting anything precancerous before it progresses to cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer treatment can be in a variety of ways.

As per 2021, HPV Information Centre data, approximately 1,23,907 women are affected, and 77,348 lose their battle to cervical cancer annually in India. Your doctor might prescribe healthcare recommendations after detecting the stage of cervical cancer. Treatment options are mostly determined by the stage of the disease at the time of diagnosis. Accepting your doctor’s advice after you have been diagnosed with HPV can help you recognize precancerous symptoms or cancer at a preliminary stage. Other HPV-related malignancies can also be treated if caught early. Our doctor also shared that most HPV does not lead to cancer if the kids are fully vaccinated.

Before they are exposed to the virus, children are protected against cancer.

By administering the vaccination sooner, you can protect kids long before they are infected with the virus. That’s exactly what you want as parents because this is a cancer-prevention vaccination. I had a long discussion with my kid’s pediatrician regarding HPV prevention and vaccination. Why don’t you check with your doctor on your next visit to know more about it?

Read more about HPV here. You can also consult the expert on the website about HPV prevention.

Issued in the public interest by MSD India.

This information is for awareness only. Please consult your doctor for more information on HPV