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Some types of HPV can cause cervical cancer. Other types are associated with vulvar cancer, anal cancer, oral cancer, and cancer of the penis (a rare cancer).
Most HPV infections do not progress to cervical cancer. If you are a woman with abnormal cervical cells, a Pap smear will detect them. If you have abnormal cervical cells, it is particularly important for you to have regular pelvic exams and Pap smears so you can be treated early, if necessary.
Genital warts may cause a number of problems during pregnancy. Because genital warts can multiply and become brittle, your healthcare provider will discuss options for their removal, if necessary.
Genital warts also may be removed to ensure a safe and healthy delivery of the newborn. Sometimes they get larger during pregnancy, making it difficult to urinate if the warts are in the urinary tract. If the warts are in the vagina, they can make the vagina less elastic and cause obstruction during delivery.
Rarely, infants born to women with genital warts develop warts in their throats (respiratory papillomatosis). Although uncommon, it is a potentially life-threatening condition for the child, requiring frequent laser surgery to prevent blocking of the breathing passages. Research on the use of interferon therapy with laser surgery shows that this drug may show promise in slowing the course of the disease.
Last Updated March 19, 2010