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HPV and Cancer

By Anonymous March 12, 2012 - 11:50pm
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I am in my early 20s and was diagnosed last October with HPV.  It was very unexpected because I am consistent with my yearly tests and it had never come up.  I have been with the same (female) partner for 3 years as well and she had the vaccination.  I slept with a few (under 4) men in my lifetime and more women.  I am now in a very committed relationship so, this was unexpected since I have heard HPV in lesbians is uncommon.  

After I was diagnosed, I did have a biopsy done and everything came back fine.  My OB, who is very good, told me just to come back in a year for another regular exam and sent me on my way.  

I have been terrified that this will grown into some form of cancer.  I am aware with my high strung personality that hypochondria is typically to blame.  I have seen many doctors for every little thing due to paranoia more than anything.  

I recently read throat and neck cancers can be caused by HPV in young people.  I noticed about two years ago now a very small (less than 1cm) lump right under my chin.  I immediately went to an ENT and had two biopsies and several appointments.  He ruled out any kind of cancer and said with my history of Mono at a later age and constant strep throat/bronchitis (I get some form at least twice a year) that it isn't uncommon to have a small lump in my throat area.  Since it was so small he also said it was nothing to worry about.  I didn't believe him so, I had two biopsies done (I insisted he do that).  Everything normal.  

In the winter I sometimes suffer with bad colds/flu-symptoms (I was sick a week and a half ago).  The cold and sore throat have been lingering but, I saw my doctor and he said I was fine and prescribed cough medicine.  

Could I have throat cancer or any type of cancer associated with HPV that my doctors haven't caught?  Or, is this in my head and I am just at the end of yet another cold?  I have such anxiety surrounding illnesses and I am always positive I am sick with something new every week.  It's really hard living with anxiety like this.  Does anyone else get this worked up?  


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EmpowHER Guest

Hi Jen,

Welcome to EmpowHER.  There are more than 40 different strains of HPV that specifically affect the genital area. Most HPV infections don't lead to cancer, but some types of genital HPV can cause cancer of the cervix. 

Most people with HPV do not develop symptoms or health problems from it. In 90% of cases, the body’s immune system clears HPV naturally within two years. But, sometimes, HPV infections are not cleared and can cause:

  • Genital warts
  • Rarely, warts in the throat -- a condition called recurrent respiratory papillomatosis, or RRP. When this occurs in children it is called juvenile-onset RRP (JORRP).
  • Cervical cancer and other, less common but serious cancers, including cancers of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus, and oropharynx (back of throat including base of tongue and tonsils)

If you a biopsy done, you should be fine.  Your doctor might suggest to just continue your yearly checkup. You should talk to your doctor about how you feel and in treating your anxiety. Living with Anxiety is not easy and is something that can be treated with medication.

Here are some resources for you






March 13, 2012 - 3:50am
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Human papillomavirus (HPV)

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