What is HPV?
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common STI in Humans. With more than 100 strains of HPV, they can infect both males and females. In females, it can lead to malignant cervical cancer due to which there are many screening techniques available for women. However, the effect of HPV on men is not widely known.
How does HPV affect Men?
HPV can affect the skin surface to result in plantar warts on the foot. There are also some high-risk strains of HPV that can affect the genital areas of men, the mouth as well as the throat. These high-risk HPV strains are sexually transmitted by vaginal, anal and oral sex. Although most men infected with HPV rarely develop symptoms, it can result in genital warts and cancer in men as well.
The serious consequences of HPV Infection In Men
1. Mouth cancer
2. Oropharynx cancer (Throat Cancer)
3. Anal Cancer
4. Penile Cancer
Studies have demonstrated that HPV is an etiologic factor in the development of penile cancer, penile intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN), anal cancer, and anal intraepithelial neoplasia (AIN). The American Cancer Society estimated that approximately 1250 new cases of penile cancer would be diagnosed and 310 men would die of penile cancer in the United States in 2010
In the U.S alone, there are
• 400 men who get HPV-related cancer of the penis
• 1,500 men who get HPV-related cancer of the anus
• 5,600 men who get cancers of the oropharynx (back of the throat), related to tobacco and alcohol. The risks of developing throat cancer, as a direct consequence of HPV, has not been researched extensively.
What are the testing methods for HPV in Men?
Due to the unconfirmed correlation between cancer in men and HPV, there is no recommended HPV test for men. The currently available tests on the market only target women due to the high rate of HPV related cervical cancer in women. These tests are not suitable for men to detect HPV-related cancer or genital warts.
The CDC doesn’t recommend screening of HPV for anal cancer due to the limited studies conducted on its efficacy in preventing anal cancer in men. For sexually active men, there are certain tests that can be done to screen for penile and anal cancer.
• Annual anal cancer screening (Anal Pap Tests):
Cytological analysis of cells obtained from an anal smear sample.
• HPV DNA Testing:
Detecting HPV DNA in the anogenital anatomical site using PCR and HC techniques.
• Penile HPV Screening:
Due to the high rates of HPV prevalence in the male penis, the presence of HPV detection may not be specific for penile cancer in men.
• Specificity: Low
• Sensitivity: Low
Despite clear data correlating HPV with anal and penile cancer in men, there are no recommended screening techniques for HPV in men. Therefore, routine anal pap smear should be recommended and other more accurate diagnostic tools should be evaluated for HPV screening in men.