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HPV in Men

HPV Health Concerns for Men

Most men will contract the HPV virus in their lifetime. If their immune system is healthy, the virus will usually clear on its own without any signs or symptoms. However, there are high risk and low risk forms of HPV which men need to be concerned about. On this page you will learn about the HPV health concerns for men. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are over 40 types of HPV that can infect the genitals of men. These HPV types can also infect the anal canal, mouth and throat.

Genital and Anal Warts

Genital and anal warts are typically caused by the HPV types 6 and 11 which are low risk strains of HPV. The warts are highly contagious and are spread through skin-to-skin sexual contact. Warts can also appear in the mouth and throat as a result of oral sex. The warts can come in many shapes and sizes and can be raised or flat. Warts can appear weeks or months after having contact with an infected partner. Genital warts usually are not cancerous; however, it’s important to pay attention to persistent warts that do not go away. That could be a serious sign that could lead to cancer.

Penile, Anal and Oral Cancer

According to the National Cancer Institute, high-risk HPVs cause most penile, anal and oropharyngeal cancer (cancer of the oropharynx, which is the middle part of the throat including the soft palate, the base of the tongue, and the tonsils). The risk is increased by the following factors:

  • Multiple sex partners
  • Men having sex with men
  • A compromised immune system (having HIV human immunodeficiency virus)
  • Anal sex (anal cancer)
  • Oral sex (oropharyngeal cancer)
  • Smoking (oropharyngeal cancer)
  • Poor oral hygiene (oropharyngeal cancer)

HPV was only thought to cause cervical cancer, but researchers have learned that HPV infects epithelial cells. These cells cover the inside and outside of the body including the skin, throat, genitals and the anus. Mucous membranes are known to be a fertile environment for HPV in the cervix. That’s why the anal canal, and mucous membranes found in the throat and mouth, have become a new popular breeding ground for anal and oral cancers. HPV as the cause of oral and throat cancer made headlines when actor Michael Douglas was diagnosed with the disease. It has been estimated that, by 2020, HPV will cause more oropharyngeal cancers than cervical cancers in the United States. Oropharyngeal cancer is a fairly easy cancer to treat, especially if caught in the early stages. An oral cancer screening is easily performed by your dentist or an oral and maxillofacial surgeon and only takes a few minutes. Ask the next time that you go in to have your routine dental exam.

Bi-Sexual Men, Men with HIV

The prevalence and incidence of HPV is especially high in the anal canal of men who are bisexual or among men who have sex with men (MSM). As a result, doctors recommend routine anal, oral and penile examinations. Gay and bisexual men are 17 times more likely to develop anal cancer than heterosexual men. And men with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and weak immune systems are more likely than other men to develop severe cases of genital warts that are difficult to treat, or that may develop into anal cancer. With the similarity to cervical cancer, many studies have found it valuable for high-risk patients to have an anal pap smear or high-resolution anal anoscope to detect precancerous lesions in the anal canal. The goal is to prevent anal cancer. With the prevalence of HPV, it’s important to have a doctor that is knowledgeable in treating HPV related conditions.


Additional Resources

“Adjuvant interferon treatment can reduce the high recurrence rate of anal condyloma seen after surgical extirpation…”

Adjuvant interferon for anal condyloma


“Local or systemic treatment with interferon may also decrease the likelihood of recurrence following surgical excision or ablative therapy, but is uncommonly used in clinical practice…”

Condylomata Acuminata (anogenital warts)



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