STDs Expert Forum
Leave Genital Warts Untreated?
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The STD Forum is intended only for questions and support pertaining to sexually transmitted diseases other than HIV/AIDS, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, human papillomavirus, genital warts, trichomonas, other vaginal infections, nongonoccal urethritis (NGU), cervicitis, molluscum contagiosum, chancroid, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). All questions will be answered by H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D. or Edward W Hook, MD.

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Leave Genital Warts Untreated?

During the course of a recent, full body dermatological exam, the dermatologist found two small, flat, brownish bumps at the base of my penis, which he diagnosed as HPV warts, and arranged for them to be surgically removed next week. They’re each about 1/8 inch in diameter or less.

When I mentioned this to my wife, she said that they've been there for years, possibly as long as five years or more.  However, I never noticed them myself until the doctor pointed them out.  They are completely asymptomatic (no burning, itching, etc).

Under the circumstances, then, is there any compelling reason to have these two warts removed right now, or would it be safe to simply leave them alone and have the doctor follow them periodically?  

If immediate removal is recommended, which method is preferable?

Thanks.
Sam
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Interesting questions.  The fact that the lesions you describe may have been there for years would be rather atypical for genital warts and the location (at the base of the penis) is also rather unusual.  Thus, there may be some value to having them removed by the dermatologist so that he/she can have them looked at under the microscope to verify that they are in fact warts and not some other dermatological process.  Most warts disappear without treatment in less than a year.  (Please note, I am not saying that these are not warts, just that several characteristics that you describe are a bit unusual.  Please do not worry however since if they have been there and not changed for years, it is just about a sure thing that they are a benign process and nothing to be concerned about and represent some sort of benign process).

If you choose to have them removed, and they are warts, this is an effective means of treatment.  Like all warts, there is a 10-20% chance that they would recur following removal.  This is actually somewhat lower than the published recurrence rates for most other types of wart treatment.

Finally, if they are warts, there is also nothing to worry about in terms of your wife.  She has been exposed and thus consideration of transmission to her is not part of  the equation in thinking about whether or not to treat them or not .

Hope this helps.  EWH
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Doctor, thanks for your prompt and informative reply!
Sam
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H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D.Blank
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