Hi I just have a general question. My partner received results after being screened for cancer and we received a letter today saying that signs of a viral infection were found and she had an appointment to go back in january for further tests. Can anyone clear up what it means by simply putting Viral infection (5months till she goes back?????) Is it a simpler way of saying she has cancer?? Thanks
The virus to which they may be referring is probably HPV, or human papillomavirus virus. Certain types of HPV can cause cerival cancer. You may have heard a bit about HPV lately because a vaccine for it has recently hit the market. It is vaccination, however, and will not help if one already has the virus. HPV most often clears on it's own, but not always. I assume your partner's doctor wants to follow-up in January to do a pap test to see if it has cleared, and to keep a close eye on any abnormal changes that could lead to cervical cancer.
Here are some "fast facts" I copied from the American Social Health Association web site about HPV:
There are over 100 HPV types.
About 30 of these types are sexually transmitted and cause genital HPV.
Genital HPV is spread through skin-to-skin contact, not through an exchange of bodily fluid.
Genital HPV cannot be entirely prevented by condom use.
This virus is often asymptomatic -- people usually don't know they have it.
About 5.5 million new genital HPV cases occur each year -- this is about 1/3 of all new STD infections.
About 20 million people -- men and women -- are thought to have an active HPV infection at any given time.
Nearly three out of four Americans between the ages of 15 and 49 have been infected with genital HPV in their lifetime.
HPV can be contracted from one partner, remain dormant, and then later be unknowingly transmitted to another sexual partner, including a spouse.
Though usually harmless, some types cause cervical cancer if not detected in time.
About 14,000 cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year.
Over 5,000 women each year die of cervical cancer in the United States.
The best way to screen for cervical cancer is a Pap test, which may be done alone or in combination with an HPV DNA test.
I copied this part from the Center for Disease Control's web site:
All types of HPV can cause mild Pap test abnormalities which do not have serious consequences. Approximately 10 of the 30 identified genital HPV types can lead, in rare cases, to development of cervical cancer. Research has shown that for most women (90 percent), cervical HPV infection becomes undetectable within two years. Although only a small proportion of women have persistent infection, persistent infection with "high-risk" types of HPV is the main risk factor for cervical cancer.
A Pap test can detect pre-cancerous and cancerous cells on the cervix. Regular Pap testing and careful medical follow-up, with treatment if necessary, can help ensure that pre-cancerous changes in the cervix caused by HPV infection do not develop into life threatening cervical cancer. The Pap test used in U.S. cervical cancer screening programs is responsible for greatly reducing deaths from cervical cancer. For 2004, the American Cancer Society estimates that about 10,520 women will develop invasive cervical cancer and about 3,900 women will die from this disease. Most women who develop invasive cervical cancer have not had regular cervical cancer screening.
I know that is a lot of reading, but hopefully it helped in some way.
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