I had the unfortunate experience of having to spend Christmas night in the Emergency Room with concerns regarding numerous lumps I had found in my calves.
While this isn’t the way anyone would choose to spend an evening, let alone Christmas in the ER, my HPV-related cancer history and more importantly my treatment involving chemotherapy, predisposes me to the development of blood clots in the legs.
If even a small fragment of the marble-sized lumps breaking off and making its way to my heart or lungs would have resulted in a significant medical crisis, or worse yet if an entire clot had become dislodged, I wouldn’t be here today writing this article.
In erring on the side of caution my doctor advised that I go to the Emergency Room so at least we could rule out that these were indeed blood clots.
It became quite apparent as the nurse was taking his intake notes just how little he knew about HPV, especially when it came to the significant number of cancers resulting from the virus. When I have come across articles in nursing publications they make the fatal flaw of all too often limiting the focus to cervical cancer alone.
It is especially important that not only doctors, but nurses as well, become more educated of the extensive nature, including the epidemiology and vaccine information, for HPV. Nurses and even nurse practitioners oftentimes have more interaction with the patient than the doctor and it typically becomes one of their responsibilities to educate and counsel patients in general.
HPV continuing-medical-education courses have been in existence for many years now, and are a requirement in most states. Nurses need to contact their individual state nursing licensing boards and request that this subject be included in the many courses offerings already in existence.
Unfortunately in my communications with HPV patients, it has often been the nurse who has given incorrect information to the patient with respect to HPV. Some of that information could have resulted in severe consequences to the patient.