Treatment

HPV cannot be treated. Doctors can remove visible genital lesions and warts caused by HPV, but there is no cure for the virus.

Unlike other sexually transmitted infections, HPV is caused by a virus and viruses cannot be cured with antibiotics. In many cases, the body’s immune system will simply clear the HPV virus on its own within two years of contracting it. However, this does not mean that people will be immune. They can still get another HPV infection in the future.

Even after years of successful treatment, a wart, a pre-cancerous lesion or a cancer may reappear because of a waning immune response such as what happens in pregnancy, in cancer treatment, or in conditions of immune deficiency such as AIDS or HIV infection.

Treatment of HPV-related cancers and warts

Genital warts – A health-care professional can remove genital warts by using chemicals, laser surgery or freezing with liquid nitrogen, or by using a cream that boosts the immune system to develop resistance against the HPV virus. It is impossible to know if HPV persists in the skin, and for how long, after the warts have been treated.

Cervical cancer – If the results of a Pap test show signs of abnormal cells, the health-care professional will suggest a colposcopy be done to examine your cervix further.  Should a treatment be required, your doctor may suggest cryosurgery, laser surgery or a LEEP procedure to remove the affected cells. Cryosurgery freezes cells off, laser surgery burns or vaporizes the cells off, and LEEP (Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure) removes the cells using a wire loop.

Anal cancer – In the presence of signs and symptoms of anal cancer, a health-care professional may recommend imaging tests and biopsies. Treatments may include laser surgery, microsurgery, radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy.

Penile cancer – Treatment varies depending on how advanced the cancer is. It might include laser surgery, microsurgery, radiation therapy, and/or chemotherapy.

Head and neck (mouth and throat) cancer – In the presence of signs and symptoms of head and neck cancer, a health-care professional may recommend imaging tests and biopsies. Treatments may include laser surgery, microsurgery, radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy.

Vulvar and vaginal cancers – Treatment varies depending on how advanced the cancer is. It might include laser surgery, microsurgery, radiation therapy, and/or chemotherapy.

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About HPVInfo.ca

HPVinfo.ca delivers evidence-based information about the human papillomavirus. All material on this site is developed and reviewed by health-care professionals and is based on guidelines from the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC). HPVinfo.ca is administered by the SOGC, Canada’s leading authority on sexual and reproductive health.