FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, March 21, 2003
SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED VIRUS WITH LINK TO CERVICAL CANCER CREATES CONCERN FOR SEXUALLY ACTIVE ADOLESCENTS
At a recent adolescent medical conference in Boston, experts discussed the near epidemic proportions of the Human Papilloma Virus (or HPV) among adolescents. Experts believe it to be the most common Sexually Transmitted Disease in America; one that’s especially prevalent among the poor and the young who live in New York City and other urban centers.
Of most concern is the fact that HPV has been shown to put women at greater risk for cervical cancer. Since the disease is almost always asymptomatic, detection and early intervention are key.
“This is why we encourage pelvic exams on a semi-annual basis for adolescents who are “sexually active,” said Dr. Warren M. Seigel, Director of Adolescent Medicine at Coney Island Hospital in southern Brooklyn. “We have been seeing girls who have HPV as young as 12 or 13.”
“Teens need to know that the virus is probably not something they’ll be able to see or feel. Yet, it can be easily detected and treated. It starts with a simple, non-invasive and painless examination.”
HPV will often cause genital warts, which are only visible if external. A pap smear is the exam used to determine any abnormalities. In the case of an abnormal test result, the physician will often recommend a colposcopy. This test looks at the tissues of a woman’s cervix or vagina using a magnifying instrument called a colposcope. The procedure is an accurate determinant for detecting the presence of cancer cells and for choosing the best treatment.
“This is a painless procedure that really makes a difference for determining the problem and recommended treatment,” said Dr. Seigel. “Although HPV will often not turn into cervical cancer, the sooner it is detected and treated the better.”
Several treatments are available to help heal the warts that can spread the disease. Physicians can remove the genital warts surgically, often through use of a laser, or through medication. Treatments may need to be repeated to be 100% effective.
“Patients shocked and embarrassed by their condition need to know that we can help alleviate the pain and discomfort caused by HPV,” said Seigel. “This is why we strongly recommend that young women who are sexually active be screened every six months.”