HPV eliminated after photodynamic therapy
As the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI), HPV infections are a common finding at a woman’s GYN exam. For early stages of HPV infection, we currently recommend monitoring to ensure resolution, or to allow for intervention if the infection becomes more aggressive. There’s a new technology that is being developed for the treatment of early-stage disease.
On February 3rd, the National Polytechnic Institute in Mexico announced the elimination of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) from the cervixes of 29 women. Led by Eva Ramon Gallegos, the team used photodynamic therapy, which uses a drug that transforms into a fluorescent chemical that accumulates in damaged cells. Using a special laser beam, they pinpointed and destroyed only the cells that were damaged. HPV was eliminated in 85% of patients who had the virus with and without lesions. Further, the research group found that photodynamic therapy eliminated premalignant lesions of cervical cancer at an early stage.
HPV is a small virus that is considered the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). It infects the epidermis of the skin after a small cut and can stay dormant in the lowest epidermal layers. There are two main types of HPV – low-risk and high-risk. In low-risk HPV infections, patients may see genital warts or be completely asymptomatic. Most infections disappear on their own but some, such as high-risk HPV infections, can cause cancer. 70% of cervical cancers and 95% of anal cancers are caused by high-risk HPV. Common symptoms of early-stage cervical cancer include irregular spotting, post-menopausal bleeding, and bleeding after intercourse.
Before photodynamic therapy was applied to the patients, the research group conducted Pap smears and biopsies to diagnose premalignant lesions and HPV infections. The only way to determine HPV infection is through regular screening. Most STI screens do not test for HPV so it is extremely important to have regular Pap testing. While the results from the National Polytechnic Institute are highly encouraging, we stress that regular testing can also prevent cervical cancer. If you are between the ages of 21-45 and have not come in for a Pap screen in over 3 years, please call to schedule an appointment.
El Camino Women’s Medical Group offers the latest Minimally Invasive Solutions for gynecologic problems. Drs. Amy Teng, Erika Balassiano, and Pooja Gupta, all members of AAGL (American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopy) are highly trained and experienced in the field of Minimally Invasive Gynecgologic Surgery. Dr. Erika Balassiano is also completed a Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery Fellowship, under the supervision of world-renowned Dr. Camran Nezhat.
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