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How Do STDs Cause Cancer?

Facts About STDs and Cancer

Certain sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can increase a person’s risk of developing several cancer types. Learning that you have a sexually transmitted disease is devastating news. When the STD can increase your risk of developing cancer, it can make it that much more alarming.

Being diagnosed with an STD is life-changing, and anyone who transmits an STD linked to cancer can put their partners at risk. Here are the facts you need to know about STDs and cancer.

Which STDs Cause Cancer?

The most common types of STDs that are known to cause cancer are the following:

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

HPV infections, unfortunately, are common, and according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nearly 80 million Americans are infected with various types of HPV each year. Some HPV infections can lead to the following types of cancer in women:

  • Cervical cancer
  • Vaginal cancer
  • Vulvar cancer

Men with HPV can be at risk of developing penile cancer. Both women and men can be at risk of anal cancer and throat cancer.

HPV can be spread by having the following types of sexual contact with someone who is infected with the virus:

  • Intimate skin-to-skin contact
  • Vaginal sex
  • Anal sex
  • Oral sex

Symptoms of HPV

Someone infected with HPV may not experience any symptoms at all but may show signs of the following:

  • Genital warts (flat lesions or cauliflower-like bumps that can occur on the vulva or in the vagina)
  • Common warts (rough raised bumps on the hands or fingers)
  • Plantar warts (hard bumps that typically appear on the balls of the feet or heels)
  • Flat warts (flat-topped and slightly raised lesions usually appear on the face)

Hepatitis B (HBV) and Hepatitis C (HCV)

Both HBV and HCV are types of liver infections, and each can cause liver cancer. The difference between HBV and HCV is how it is spread through sexual contact. Hepatitis B is spread through blood and other bodily fluids, and HCV is spread by blood only.

According to the American Cancer Society, HCV infections might be linked to other cancers such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Of the two hepatitis infections, HBV is more likely to cause symptoms. Most adults recover from HBV within a few months. However, there is still the risk of chronic HBV, and people with chronic HBV are at an increased risk of developing liver cancer.

Here are some associated symptoms of each:

Symptoms of Hepatitis B

HBV symptoms can range from mild to severe and can include:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Clay-colored stool
  • Joint pain
  • Jaundice

Symptoms of Hepatitis C

Many people who have HCV are unaware because it doesn’t typically present symptoms until the virus damages the liver causing the following symptoms:

  • Bleeding or bruising easily
  • Fatigue
  • Poor appetite
  • Jaundice
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Itchy skin
  • Fluid buildup in the abdomen
  • Leg swelling
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Slurred speech
  • Spider-like blood vessels on the skin

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

HIV weakens the immune system by destroying cells that fight infections and disease. While HIV isn’t directly linked to cancer, it can increase the risk of developing many different types of cancers since someone with HIV will have a compromised immune system.

The following types of cancers can be associated with HIV infection:

  • Anal cancer
  • Hodgkin diseases
  • Melanoma skin cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Mouth and throat cancers
  • Testicular cancer
  • Squamous cell and basal cell skin cancers

Symptoms of HIV

The only way to know for sure if you have been infected with HIV to get tested. However, someone with HIV may have the following symptoms in its beginning stages:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Rash
  • Night sweats
  • Muscle aches
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Mouth ulcers

STD Statistics

While not all STDs are linked to cancer, the latest 2018 statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that STDs as a whole are a considerable health concern for people in the U.S. Here are some key statistics you should know:

  • 1.8 million cases of chlamydia were reported, which was a 19% increase since 2014.
  • 583,405 cases of gonorrhea were reported, which was a 63% increase since 2014.
  • 115,045 cases of syphilis were reported, which was a 71% increase since 2014.
  • 1,306 cases of syphilis cases in newborns (passed from the mother) were reported with was a 185% increase since 2014

Furthermore, the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) reports that sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among adolescents (15 to 24 years of age) are increasing. The following are some recent findings:

  • Adolescents account for 50% of all new STIs in the U.S each year.
  • 1 out of every 4 sexually active adolescent females have an STI
  • The most common STI among adolescent females are chlamydia and HPV
  • Gonorrhea infections increased by 11.3% among adolescents 15 to 19 years old between 2015 and 2016 and increased 10% among adolescents aged 20 to 24.

Can Vaccinations Prevent an STD?

Vaccinations are available for HPV, HBV, and HCV; however, if you’ve already been diagnosed with HPV, HBV, or HCV, vaccination will not protect against them. There currently is no vaccination for HIV; however, there are many treatments to help patients manage their condition. If you suspect you’ve contracted an STD or you want to learn more about vaccinations against STDs, speak to your healthcare provider.

Contracted an STD? We’re Here to Help.

If you contracted an STD from a sexual partner who failed to inform you that you were at risk of an infection, you might have grounds to file an STD lawsuit. Filing such a case can help you recover the compensation you need for medical bills and lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. We understand that speaking out against someone who gave you an STD is a personal and private matter. Our attorneys are here to help you through this while protecting your privacy.

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