Does HPV always cause cancer?

It is important that women understand that infection with high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) is a necessary but not a sufficient factor for the development of nearly all the precancerous and cancerous changes in the cervix. Only a small fraction of women infected with HPV will develop high-grade cervical abnormalities and cancer. The current model of cancer development suggests that most HPV infection results in either transient or persistent infection, with most HPV infection being transient and posing little risk of progression.

Although transient infection is more common, persistence of a high-risk HPV infection at one and two years strongly predicts subsequent risk of high-grade cervical changes or precancerous changes. Factors determining which infections will persist are not completely understood.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Though there are more than 100 strains of HPV, only 15 of them (16, 18, 31, 33, 35, 39, 45, 51, 52, 56, 58, 59, 68, 73 and 82) have been labeled as “high risk” to cause cancer by the American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology (ASCCP). Therefore, it’s more likely than not that if you have been infected sometime in the past, you may either have cleared the virus already or acquired a noncancerous strain.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.