Martina Feichter

Martina Feichter studied biology in Innsbruck with an optional subject in pharmacy and also immersed herself in the world of medicinal plants. From there it was not far to other medical topics that still captivate her today. She trained as a journalist at the Axel Springer Academy in Hamburg and has been working for lifelikeinc.com since 2007 - first as an editor and since 2012 as a freelance author.

More about the lifelikeinc.com expertsThe abbreviation HPV stands for the Human Papillomavirus. The pathogen causes venereal disease and can be felt by warts on the skin and in the genital area. However, most HPV infections heal unnoticed. Nevertheless, malignant tumors can occur long after infection. Man and woman can be equally infected with HPV. Read more about HPV here.

ICD codes for this disease: ICD codes are internationally valid medical diagnosis codes. They are found e.g. in medical reports or on incapacity certificates. A63B07ArtikelübersichtHPV

  • Quick Overview
  • Causes and risk factors
  • sequelae
  • Genital warts (Condylomata acuminata)
  • Cervical cancer (cervical carcinoma)
  • symptoms
  • Examinations and diagnosis
  • HPV test
  • treatment
  • Disease course and prognosis
  • Prevent
  • HPV: vaccination

HPV: Quick Reference

  • Infection: especially via direct skin or mucous membrane contact (sexual intercourse); it is also possible to transmit viruses via infected objects (toys, towels, etc.) as well as at birth (from the infected mother to the child)
  • Sequelae: Depending on HPV type v.a. Nipples, genital warts (genital warts), tissue changes (potential precancerous lesions) and cancer (such as cervical cancer, oropharyngeal cancer, anal cancer)
  • Common symptoms: depending on the clinical picture; e.g. in case of genital warts, reddish, brownish or whitish papules in the genital and anal region, possibly with sensation of wetness and itching; in cervical cancer, vaginal discharge and vaginal bleeding
  • Important investigations: Physical examination, cell smear, colposcopy (in women), HPV test, biopsy (analysis of a tissue sample)
  • Treatment options: Depending on the clinical picture icing, laser therapy, electrocautery, medication, surgical procedures
To the table of contents

HPV: causes and risk factors

The human papillomaviruses (HPV) belong to the DNA viruses. Their genetic information is stored on a DNA strand like the human genome. To multiply, HPV viruses require human cells. The infection works like this:

HPV viruses inject their genetic material into a human host cell (skin or mucosal cell) and force them to produce new viruses on an ongoing basis. At some point, the host cell bursts (and dies off), releasing the many new viruses. In turn, they can infect new human cells.

Life cycle of HP virusesHP viruses multiply in human cells, forcing them to multiply their genetic material

At the same time, in the case of HPV infection, the human genome can be changed so that uncontrolled growths of the skin or mucous membranes (tumors) arise. They can turn into malignant cancer. The risk of cancer depends on the HPV type.

HPV transmission

Many HPV viruses are made by mere skin contact transfer. This is especially true for those pathogens that cause harmless skin warts (papillomas).

HPV types, which infect the genitalia and cause such as genital warts or cervical cancer, are mainly by intercourse transfer. Genital HPV infections are therefore among the sexually transmitted diseases (STD). Also through Oral Sex HPV virus transmission is possible if the oral mucosa comes into contact with HPV-infected skin areas (such as labia or penis). The same applies Body contact while swimming togetherHowever, this is a much less common way of infection.

At least theoretically possible is also an HPV virus infection over infected items like sex toys, towels or the toilet.

Another possibility is the transmission of the pathogen from the mother to the child during birth.

No risk of infection exists according to the current state of knowledge through breastfeeding, normal kissing or blood donation.

Can bein the genital anus area of ​​children Find warts, special attention is needed. Every individual case must be checked and sexual abuse excluded.

  • HPV: Vaccination also makes sense for boys

    Three questions

    Dr. med. Hans-Ulrich Voigt,
    Specialist in dermatology, phlebology, allergology
  • 1

    How dangerous is HPV really?

    Dr. med. Hans-Ulrich Voigt

    Not all HP viruses are dangerous. But those that it is, especially the so-called high-risk HP virus strains, are particularly aggressive and can cause malignant changes such as cervical cancer, penile and anal cancer, as well as ENT tumors. In that sense, it makes sense to protect oneself from it wherever possible.

  • 2

    How do you protect yourself?

    Dr. med. Hans-Ulrich Voigt

    Because HP viruses are primarily transmitted through sexual contacts, condoms should be used to protect new partnerships. Although these do not bring 100 percent, but a far-reaching protection against infection. In addition, Cervical PAP smears and an HPV test help to keep an eye on one's own risk situation. In the run-up, before the first sexual contacts, protects a vaccine.

  • 3

    What is the HPV vaccine?

    Dr. med. Hans-Ulrich Voigt

    The HPV vaccine for young girls in puberty and more recently also for boys makes sense as they protect against nine HPV types that are considered highrisk. Correspondingly vaccinated children thus have a high protection against malignant changes, which can be triggered by aggressive HP viruses.

  • Dr. med. Hans-Ulrich Voigt,
    Specialist in dermatology, phlebology, allergology

    Founder and owner of dermatology and laser center dermatology at the cathedral in Munich, one of the first laser therapists in Munich.

risk factors

Probably the most important risk factor of a genital infection results from the mechanism of HPV transmission: frequent and above all unprotected intercourse. Other risk factors for HPV infection are:

  • first sexual contacts before the age of 16: This risk factor is especially true for girls.
  • Smoke: Cigarettes & Co. not only increase the risk of HPV infection, but also the risk of cells degenerating and developing into cancer cells.
  • Births at a young age and several children: When pregnant, the mucosa on the cervix changes and becomes more susceptible to infection. Tissue changes may persist for a few years after pregnancy.
  • inconsistent use of condoms: Condoms can not prevent 100% HPV infection. However, consistently using them on sexual contacts reduces the risk of infection.
  • suppressed immune systemIf the immune system is compromised due to a disease (such as HIV) or medication (immunosuppressants), the risk of HPV infection increases.
  • other genital infections like chlamydia or genital herpes: they also seem to favor HPV transmission.

In addition, some factors increase the risk of HPV-infected cells becoming cancerous cells. These include smoking, many pregnancies, HIV infection and taking the contraceptive pill for five years or more.

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  • Cancer by pathogens?

    Why does someone get cancer - this question is the science very intense. Some answers she has already found: Alcohol, smoking or certain genes make more susceptible to the degeneration of cells. But also viruses and Co. can promote cancer. Find out here which types of cancer the infection with certain pathogens plays a role.
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  • cervical cancer

    Many know this example: cervical cancer. This type of cancer is caused by human papillomaviruses, called HPV for short. They are transmitted during sexual intercourse. With HPV, about 80 percent of adults become infected during their lifetime - one percent of women then become ill with cervical cancer. The most effective protection is the HPV vaccine recommended before the first sexual contact. HPV can promote other cancers ...
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  • Penile Cancer and Co.

    There are 150 different HPV types altogether. They can cause penile cancer, vaginal cancers, anal tumors or tumors in the mouth and throat area - there was a few years ago headlines about Michael Douglas, because he made responsible for his tongue cancer oral sex. These cancers associated with HPV are much rarer than cervical cancer. However, there is another cancer related to viruses ...
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  • liver cancer

    Namely liver cancer. The responsible pathogens here are hepatitis B and C viruses. They can promote tumors in the liver. The viruses are transmitted by blood or the exchange of other body fluids, such as saliva or semen. The hepatitis B vaccine protects against infection and thus also reduces the risk of liver cancer. There is no vaccine against hepatitis C viruses.
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  • lymphoma

    Almost everyone gets infected with the Epstein-Barr virus in the course of his life. In this country, the virus usually triggers the Pfeiffer's glandular fever. In other parts of the world, it is associated with cancers such as Burkitt lymphoma in Africa or tumors in the nasopharynx in Southeast Asia. The reason for the different effects: There are different strains of Epstein-Barr viruses, which are different aggressive.
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  • Kaposi's sarcoma

    Human herpesvirus type 8 can also promote the growth of tumors. This virus is not to be confused with the herpes viruses that cause, for example, cold sores or genital herpes. It favors the development of dark-colored skin and mucosal tumors that arise from blood vessel wall cells, the so-called Kaposi's sarcoma. Most people with a weakened immune system get sick of it, for example HIV patients.
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  • blood cancer

    Another virus is associated with adult lymphocytic T cell leukemia: the human T cell leukemia virus type 1. In Germany, this form of blood cancer is very rare. More often, the virus occurs in Japan, South America or parts of Africa.
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  • skin cancer

    Also rare is the so-called Merkel cell carcinoma - a specific form of skin cancer. In 2008, a virus was detected that can be detected in most patients in cancerous tissue: the Merkel cell polyoma virus. Other risk factors for the development of this type of cancer are high levels of UV exposure and a weakened immune system. But not only viruses but also certain bacteria have now identified research as potentially carcinogenic ...
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  • stomach cancer

    Thus, the stomach bacterium Helicobacter pylori promotes gastric cancer. You can get infected by consuming feces-contaminated food or water. Risk groups, such as close relatives of gastric cancer patients or people who have been taking so-called proton pump inhibitors for heartburn for more than a year, are advised to have the stomach germ removed with antibiotics. In addition to bacteria, even parasites can promote cancer ...
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  • bladder cancer

    For example the schistosoma, a suckling worm found in the tropics and subtropics. The larvae penetrate into the body while bathing and then trigger the tropical disease schistosomiasis, which is manifested among other things by a rash. If it is not treated or the infection continues to occur, it increases the risk of bladder and rectal cancer. Concerned long-distance travelers should be checked and treated accordingly after their return.
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  • Interplay of different factors

    Viruses, bacteria, parasites - the infection with one of these pathogens is never the sole trigger for a tumor disease. Only a fraction of people who get infected actually develop cancer. The reason: additional risk factors must be added. Mostly, the control mechanisms that normally keep the intruder in check are disturbed.
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  • No risk for family and friends

    Even if there are pathogens that increase your own cancer risk - you can not catch cancer directly. Healthy people therefore need not be afraid of dealing with cancer patients. Viruses that have caused a tumor can usually no longer infect anyone new. And the cancer cells themselves are usually not infectious.