Science Just Gave Us Another Reason To Be Really Scared Of HPV

by Zara Barrie

Oh, HPV. The good ol' Human Papillomavirus. The most common sexually transmitted infection of all sexually transmitted infections. (About 79 million Americans have HPV, right here, right now, babes).

Basically, if you're a sexually active human being who has not been vaccinated for HPV (like yours truly), you probably have the virus.

Most of the time, HPV doesn't cause any health mishaps at all, and it usually just goes away on its own. (Thank God because it's so damn common.)

But in some cases, HPV can give you a lovely condition known as genital warts, which look like smallish bumps around your genitalia.

HPV can also cause certain types of cancer (so get vaccinated) — and researchers just discovered a new subtype of cervical cancer caused by HPV.

Researchers just discovered a new subtype of cervical cancer caused by HPV.

Now, I know you're a little hypochondriac like me (am I projecting?), so let me assure you, it takes years — decades, even — for HPV to manifest into cancer.

In the new study, researchers found that in cervical cancerous tumors, which contained HPV DNA, HPV was no longer active in about 8 percent of those tumors.

This means, in this new subtype of cervical cancer, the cancerous tumors were caused by HPV, but the virus didn't cause the cancer to spread in the body. Are you with me?

Before this point, scientists believed HPV needed to remain active in the body for cancer to keep growing.

What's even more alarming is, this subtype of cervical cancer did not respond to treatments that usually worked for cases where HPV was still active.

According to Medical Daily, this was because inactive HPV cases have different mutations that need to be treated differently than other types of cervical cancer.

So what the hell does all this mean?!

Well, it means that with this new information (which is scary and totally sucks), doctors will likely be able to more specifically cater their treatments to different cervical cancer patients (which is hopeful and doesn't suck).

Researcher Carolyn Banister from the University of South Carolina said,

Cervical cancer patients are currently treated as a uniform group based on chemotherapy and radiation regimens that help the largest percentage of people; however, one third of these patients are not helped by standard therapies, These women may benefit from alternative treatments that are not usually given to cervical cancer patients.

So while it's always scary to know there is ANOTHER type of cervical cancer caused by HPV, it's good that this new information might actually help save the lives of women with this different type of cervical cancer.

In short, don't freak out. Knowledge is power, and if you haven't had the HPV vaccine, get it, girl.

Citations: Cervical Cancer Update 2017: Symptoms Of The New Subtype Of Female Reproductive Cancer (Medical Daily), Identification and characterization of HPV-independent cervical cancers (Oncotarget)