Genital Warts in Men (HPV Virus) (cont.)

Risks of HPV Virus in Men

Some of the 30 or so types of HPV associated with genital cancers can lead to cancer of the anus or penis in men. Both of these cancer types are rare. In those with a healthy immune system, they are even rarer. About 1,530 men in the U.S. were diagnosed with cancer of the penis in 2006, according to American Cancer Society estimates. About 1,910 men got a diagnosis of anal cancer.

The risk of anal cancer is about 17 times higher in sexually active gay and bisexual men than in men who have sex only with women. Men who have HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) are also at higher risk of getting this cancer.

Other types of HPV virus rarely cause cancer in men, but they do cause genital warts. At a given point in time, about 1% of sexually active men in the U.S. will have genital warts.

Male HPV: The Symptoms

The types of high-risk HPV that can cause cancer rarely present any symptoms in men or in women. Genital warts are the first symptom you may see with low-risk HPV strains that cause warts but not cancer.

Tests for HPV Virus in Men

To diagnose genital warts in men, the doctor will visually check a man's genital area to see if warts are present. Some doctors will apply a vinegar solution to help identify warts that aren't raised and visible. But the test is not foolproof. Sometimes normal skin is mistakenly identified as a wart.

There is no routine test for men to check for high-risk HPV strains that can cause cancer. However, some doctors are urging anal Pap tests for gay and bisexual men, who are at higher risk of anal cancer caused by HPV. In an anal Pap test, the doctor collects cells from the anus, and then has them checked for abnormalities in a lab.

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