Glossary Term:

Title

human papilloma virus or human papillomavirus

Phonetic

<b>pap</b>-uh-<b>LO</b>-muh <b>vy</b>-rus

Description

also called HPV. A common virus with many types, some of which cause changes in the body’s cells that can grow into cancer. Of the more than 100 types of HPV, about 40 HPV types can live in the mucous membranes such as those of the vagina, cervix, and anus. Called genital HPV, a few of these types cause most cervical cancers. Genital HPV is spread mainly during vaginal, oral, or anal sex, from one person to another during skin-to-skin contact. In most cases, the body gets rid of the HPV infection, but for some people HPV can cause warts or cancer. Besides cervical cancer, some cancers of the penis, vagina, vulva, and urethra and some head and neck cancers (mostly the tongue and tonsils) may be related to HPV. The types most often linked to cancer include HPV-16, HPV-18, HPV-31, HPV-35, HPV-39, HPV-45, HPV-51, HPV-52, and HPV-58. About 70% of HPV-related cancers are caused by types 16 or 18. Vaccines can now help the body fight these 2 types, as well as 2 other types mainly known for causing warts. There is also a test for HPV that can be done along with a woman’s Pap test. See also Pap test.