Updated: December 21, 2017
HPV also known as Human papillomavirus is the most common sexually transmitted infection which can lead to cancer. Some of the types of HPV associated with genital cancers can lead to cancer of the anus or penis in men although these cancers are not common. HPV can also cause genital warts in men.
Most men who get HPV, develop growths or warts on their penis, testicles, anus, groin and thighs or back of the throat. Most cancers that are found in the back of the throat, including at the base of the tongue and in the tonsils, are HPV related.
The risk of anal cancer is 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.
There is no treatment for HPV infection in men. However, most health problems that are caused by HPV are treatable.
Genital warts can be treated with prescription medication. They can also be surgically removed or frozen or burned off, depending on the size, location, and shape. Genital warts can go away on their own in some cases. It can also take time for all warts to appear. Therefore early treatment of warts is discouraged by some doctors as a person who treats warts as soon as they appear may need another treatment later on.
If genital warts are not treated, they are unlikely to turn into cancer. Anal, penile, or throat cancers are usually treated with a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. The specific treatments depend on the stage of cancer such as how big the tumor is and how far the cancer has spread.
Types of surgical interventions may include:
This method uses liquid nitrogen to freeze the abnormal areas.
Electrical current is used to burn the abnormal areas.
A light beam removes unwanted tissue.
This is rarely used due to the high risk of side effects and cost.
Surgery can be done to remove the abnormal areas.
Most sexually active men and women will contract the HPV virus at some point during their lifetime. Getting vaccinated can lower the risk of getting HPV. The vaccine is given in two doses, 6 to 12 months apart. Catch-up vaccines are recommended for males up to the age of 21 years and females up to 26 years who did not receive the vaccination at a younger age. Gay and bisexual men are encouraged to have the vaccination up to the ages of 26 years.
The HPV vaccine Gardasil is approved for boys and men of ages 9 to 26 years for the prevention of genital warts caused by HPV 6 and HPV 11. Gardasil was also approved for the prevention of anal cancer.
Gardasil 9 is approved for use in males of age 9 to 15 years. It prevents infection by the same HPV types as Gardasil along with HPV-31, HPV-33, HPV-45, HPV-52, and HPV-58.
The HPV vaccine is safe and effective. No serious side effects have been reported from the vaccine. The HPV vaccine does not prevent other sexually transmitted infections or treat people who have existing HPV infections or HPV-related diseases.
The best way to protect yourself against HPV is to get vaccinated. Although it is recommended that you get vaccinated around age 12, you can still get vaccinated up until age 26. You can also protect yourself and prevent spreading by: