What can I do to protect my health?

What does prevention entail?, What is primary prevention?, What is secondary prevention?, Prevention of infection by HPV and its complications

What does prevention entail?

There are two types of prevention, primary and secondary.

What is primary prevention?

Primary prevention involves not letting HPV infect you. How can one ensure this?

  1. By vaccination (that protects from specific types of HPV).
  2. By practising safe sexual behaviour (limiting the number of sexual partners, careful choice of sexual partners and use of a condom).

What is secondary prevention?

Secondary prevention involves having routine check-ups to prevent, in time, any consequences of an infection and choosing a healthy lifestyle and diet to boost your immune system.

Secondary prevention is being successfully implemented against cervical cancer. Women are preventively tested using Pap tests and HPV tests, which help detect and treat premalignant lesions

All the above make clear the value of prevention. Over the next five chapters we will discuss in detail the various prevention methods.

It is interesting to note that, thanks to all the means available today, cervical cancer is nearly 100% preventable, and we can prevent other cancers caused by HPV at rates higher than 90%..

Prevention of infection by HPV and its complications

Primary Prevention Secondary Prevention
(reducing the chances of infection) (reducing the chances of infection)
Preventive vaccination Pap test
Limiting the number of sexual partners HPV test
Use of condoms Colposcopy, Biopsy

What is the role of your defense mechanisms in carcinogenesis?

It has been proven that a persistent HPV infection caused by high-risk viral types over a long period of time increases the chances for cancer in the future.

What factors contribute to the persistence of an HPV infection and carcinogenesis later? The deficient functioning of our immune system and the tumor-suppressing mechanisms we have (if they don’t work properly).

The poor functioning of our immune system, whatever its cause, is a very important parameter. We know that AIDS patients are at a higher risk due to the deficient functioning of their immune system. Also, as we know, patients taking immunosuppressant medication for any reason (such as organ transplant patients, chronic users of cortisone and other immunosuppressive drugs due to rheumatism or other chronic diseases) face a higher risk.

High-risk HPVs drive abnormal cell proliferation, as a consequence of genetic alterations, and induce mutations.

Once HPV enters an epithelial cell, the virus begins to make the proteins it encodes. Two of the proteins made by high-risk HPVs (E6 and E7) interfere with cell functions that normally prevent excessive growth, helping the mutated cells to grow in an uncontrolled manner and to avoid cell death.

Many times the HPV infected cells are recognized by the immune system and eliminated. Sometimes, however, these infected cells are not destroyed, resulting in a persistent infection. As the persistently infected cells continue to multiply, they may develop mutations in cellular genes that promote even more abnormal cell growth, leading to the formation of an area of precancerous cells and, ultimately, a cancerous tumor.