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HPV: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

What is the treatment? How is the treatment done? Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?) Who is not eligible for the treatment? Are there any side effects? What are the post-treatment guidelines? How long does it take to recover? What is the price of the treatment in India? Are the results of the treatment permanent? What are the alternatives to the treatment?

What is the treatment?

Human papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted virus cause infection in many people who experience sex at a very early age or have sex with a partner having many partners or have many sex partners and it often gets cleared up without any treatment, without making people fall sick. There are 100 different types of HPV and most of them do not cause serious health issue. In case they persist and cause problems like genital warts, leading to cancer or even precancerous changes, then the symptoms might require treatment. Women may be prescribed to take some tests like Pap test to do a follow up of the affected cells. The analysis tests the presence of there are abnormal changes in the cells due to HPV infection, it could lead to cervical cancer which will need treatment or cervical dysplasia which is a precancerous cell change or another cell defect called cervical entraepitheial neoplasis, both of which get healed on their own. For treatment of these abnormal cells some methods like conisation, laser therapy, loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) or cryotherapy are used on people. If the infection by HPV type 6 and 11 causes some raised or flat growths on your scrotum or cervix or thigh or groin or on the penis or anus, they are called genital warts and can be treated using Podofilox or Imiquimod cream or Podophylin and trichloroacetic acid, surgical removal.

How is the treatment done?

Only if HPV causes genital warts or cancer in the cervix or anus or penis of individuals, appropriate treatment would be required. To treat genital warts medications like podofilox, podophylin, imiquimod and trichloroacetic acid can be used. Surgical interventions like cryotherapy would involve freezing of the virus infected cells with liquid nitrogen thereby inhibiting their functions by forming a blister around the warts, burning the abnormal cells with electric current, surgical removal of the cells with the help of a scalpel, laser therapy to remove infected cells using intense light rays and LEEP technique is used wherein the abnormal cells are discarded with an electric current. Imiquimod (Zyclara, Aldara) works by boosting up the immune system helping to fight the HPV, podofilox and podophyllin simply destroy the genital wart tissues. In case of cervical cancer also, if the cells are present only on the upper layers and have not migrated into the deeper layers the same surgical treatments can be applied as in case of genital warts. Only if the cancer recurs after other treatments, simple hysterectomy is carried out. Radiation therapy like high dose X-rays is also used to destroy cancer cells, chemotherapy is a common treatment for getting rid of cancer cells. HPV can also cause penile cancer in some men and the treatments include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and biologic therapy. Surgery can be performed by cutting the tumor from the skin in thin layers using a microscope or by using laser beam to cut the lesions, circumcision that removes the affected foreskin of the penis or even by amputating partial or the whole penis. Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays or may be other types of rays to inhibit the growth of cancer cells, chemotherapy uses drugs to kill or stop the cancer cells form growing.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

Treatment can be given to patients only with visible warts eliminating as many lesions as possible. HIV positive patients or immunosuppressed patients require other treatment methods too for complete eradication. Pregnant women with HPV infection are also eligible for treatment using keratolytics and cryotherapy, even surgical excisions in some.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

People who do not have visible genital warts are of course not eligible for the respective treatment. If there is presence of mucosal human papillomavirus (HPV) or subclinical anogenital HPV, but there is no co-existence of dysplasia, then treatment cannot be recommended. This is because the latent virus present in the healthy skin beside the lesion may get activated by the treatment causing the condition to recur. Pregnant women cannot be treated with medications like podophyllin, 5-flurouracil and interferon.

Are there any side effects?

There are side-effects of medication and surgery of genital warts. Application of Imiquimod (Aldara) causes redness of the skin along with blisters, body aches, fatigue, rashes and cough. Sinecatechins (Veregan) have side effects on the skin causing reddening, burning, pain and itching. Podophyllin and podofilox can cause mild skin irritation, aches and sores. Also, if too much of the ointment is used or is not let air dried, it could spread to other areas and thereby cause side effects. Laser treatment can cause swelling, itching or pain in the affected area, sores in the treated area, scarring and shedding of tissues, discharge from vagina or penis and even tissues that stick together. Post-surgery you can expect a fever, a severe pain or bleeding continuing for about a week or a foul smell with a yellow discharge thereby giving rise to an infection.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

Once your warts are treated you need to develop a few good habits to avoid their come back. The foremost step is to maintain proper hygiene, keep the area clean and avoid scratching it. If the area feels swollen or if it hurts then a cold pack may soothe it or over-the-counter medicine can also be taken. You should also wash your hands each time you touch your genital warts and lastly avoid sex if you feel uncomfortable and till they are completely gone. Women must regularly go for Pap tests and should be checked whether vaccine has been taken or not.

How long does it take to recover?

It takes about several weeks to months or even year to completely recover and totally get rid of the warts but they may also relapse which occurs more often. Some people can never get cleared of them in their life. The cancer also takes years to heal completely.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

The normal consultation fees for treatment of genital warts ranges between Rs.200 to Rs.2000. The treatment involves certain tests like PAP Test and HPV Test wherein PAP Test is charged somewhere around Rs. 200 to Rs. 1,500 and the HPV Test cost around Rs.2,000. 12.5 mg of Imiquimod cream cost around Rs. 268. Cost of Cervical cancer treatment ranges between about Rs. 3 lakh to Rs. 5 lakh.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

The results for genital warts treatment are usually not permanent and have more than 50% chance of getting relapsed. Cervical and penile cancer treatments are generally permanent. But, as the virus cannot be eradicated easily, the condition can prevail.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

If the symptoms of your HPV or the genital warts are not very prominent and do not cause you much discomfort it is not necessary to get a treatment done. You can maintain simple hygiene, abstain from sexual contact, always use barrier protection like condoms while sex, wash hands every time you touch the warts and avoid rubbing the affected area.

Popular Questions & Answers

Last 4 months I am facing red rashes on tip of penis now it becomes worsen and skin is peeling and becomes bloody red I was using tube nuforce gm but not getting results.

MBBS, DDV, FCPS, APEX, Diplomat American Board of Sexology
HIV Specialist, Mumbai
This could be one of the stds. To better understand the importance, risk and consequences of stds please take private consult with audio video chat and then I can guide you properly and tell you what is to be done. This area being very sensitive p...

Am from hyderabad. Am 29 years old. Sir actually I don't know it's lump or cyst on a right testicle. Its not paining n no other symptoms. I don't smoke r drink. Scrotum everything is fine .there is no swellings .what it can be?

MD - Obstetrtics & Gynaecology, FCPS, DGO, Diploma of the Faculty of Family Planning (DFFP)
Gynaecologist, Mumbai
Most of the medical problems need personally taking detailed medical history and examination with the need for reports sometimes so meet concerned doctor- general surgeon or urogenital surgeon.

I get red rashes and balanitis like conditions when I wash my penis with dettol soap for 2-3 days. Whats its reason. And one thing more I received blowjob from sex worker in december last year can it be reason?

MBBS, DDV, FCPS, APEX, Diplomat American Board of Sexology
HIV Specialist, Mumbai
This could be one of the stds. To better understand the importance, risk and consequences of stds please take private consult with audio video chat and then I can guide you properly and tell you what is to be done.

Hello doctor, I had unprotected sex with a girl. She is known to me, but has had many partners in the past few years. I got scared, went to see a doc and he advised to take viraday for pep for 28 days. It's been 14 days. Can I stop this medicine cause it causes severe dizziness. I am just taking this medicine for caution as I cannot ask the girl directly. Also will there be any long term side effects of viraday. I really want to stop this medicine immediately if possible.

MBBS, M.S Obstetrics & Gynaecology, F.MAS FELLOWSHIP IN MINIMAL ACCESS SURGERY, D. MAS Dipolma in MINIMAL ACCESS SURGERY, FICRS, Fellowship in COSMETIC GYNAECOLOGY, Diploma in advanced Laparoscopy for Urogynaecology & Gynaec oncology, Basic training course in minimal invasive surgery in Gynaecology, Basics of Colposcopy, Fellowship in Cosmetic Gynaecology, Certificate course in diagnostic ultrasound imaging, Certificate of hands on training in hysteroscopy, Certificate course in diabetes, Fellowship in assisted reproductive technology, Certificate program in aesthetic Medicine, Certificate of operative Hysteroscopy, Certificate course in clinical embryology
Gynaecologist, Chennai
yes you can stop the medicine if you are not willing to proceed on because it is just an anti viral and it is known to cause side effects

Had sex with a masseuse. Used condom, but she did sucked my penis for about 30 seconds. We kissed tongue to tongue, 3-4 times. Took shower twice after all this. Washed my mouth with listerine. Any chance of getting hiv or other std’s.

M.B.B.S, MD - Psychiatry
Psychiatrist, Ghaziabad
Stds like chlamydia, herpes, gonorrhoea, syphilis and hpv can all be transmitted orally, meaning they can pass from one person's mouth to their partner's genitals or anus, or vice versa. It better to wait and watch for the symptoms as there is som...

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