Understand the relationship between the HPV virus and the cancer that affected Ana Maria Braga

Understand the relationship between the HPV virus and the cancer that affected Ana Maria Braga
Understand the relationship between the HPV virus and the cancer that affected Ana Maria Braga

Ana Maria Braga, 75 years old, revealed in an interview that the cancer he had in 2001 was due to contamination from the HPV virus, also known as Human Papilloma Virus. She said that, at the time, she had no knowledge about the transmission of these viruses and what they were about.

More than 20 years later, this scenario is different. Currently, the Unified Health System (SUS) promotes a campaign to combat the transmission of HPV and even offers vaccines to boys and girls aged 9 to 14, and those who are immunosuppressed.

The presenter of ‘Mais Você’ was diagnosed with cancer of the rectum and groin – extremely common in people infected with the HPV virus. In an interview with ItatiaiaEduardo Candido, gynecologist and professor at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) and the Faculty of Medical Sciences of Minas Gerais, gave details about the relationship between some types of cancer and HPV.

What is HPV?

HPV is the acronym in English for the term that, in Portuguese, means Human Papilloma Virus. Contrary to what many people think, it is a set of viruses. According to the National Cancer Institute (INCA), there are more than 200 types of HPV, and of these, 40 types can infect the anogenital tract.

How are HPV transmitted?

According to Inca, HPV is transmitted through direct contact with infected skin or mucosa. The main route of transmission is sexual, including oral-genital, genital-genital or even manual-genital contact – which allows HPV infection to occur even without anal or vaginal penetration.

What cancers may be related to HPV contamination?

HPV has a strong relationship with cases of cervical cancer, and also with cancers in the vagina, vulva, anus, penis, oropharynx and mouth. “Tobacco is considered the main agent of cancer in human life, but HPV is also very carcinogenic. There is a convergence of cause and effect. They are responsible for causing more than 90% of anal cancers, more than 75% of cases of vaginal cancervulva and oropharynx, in addition to more than 60% of penile cancers”, informed Candido.

According to the professional, viruses have a high infectivity potential. It is estimated that up to 80% of the sexually active population has contact with it at least once in their lives.

Does a person who contracts HPV necessarily have cancer?

Candido explains that not all people contract HPV which will develop cancer, in fact, most people can eliminate the virus from the body spontaneously. “What happens most of the time is that between 5% and 10% of those infected can develop cancer”, he points out.

Why does the Unified Health System (SUS) only vaccinate children and adolescents aged 9 to 14?

Vaccination against HPV offered by the SUS is only for young people aged 9 to 14, because this age group is likely to have not yet had sexual intercourse and not have had contact with a wild virus – which reduces the effectiveness of the vaccine. “The earlier the vaccine is given to the population, the better. This way, the body’s response is more powerful”, explains the professional. It is important to highlight that the organization also offers the vaccine for immunosuppressed people.

The vaccine offered by the federal government is tetravalent, that is, it prevents four types of HPV.

Can people over 14 get the vaccine? If so, is it effective?

Although there is a reduction in the protective potential of the vaccine as people age, people up to 45 years of age can take the vaccine and still be protected from viruses. “There are some countries that already apply the vaccine to other age groups”, he says.

How can HPV infection become cancer?

When the virus enters the cell, it introduces its genetic material into it and incorporates it into the genetic material of the infected cell. In this way, he uses the cellular machinery to produce for him and immortalizes the cell. Then the modified cell begins to multiply inadvertently and they begin to invade other walls of the organ, which can result in cancer.

How to prevent HPV?

It is important that the population uses condoms during sexual intercourse, in addition to taking children and adolescents to be vaccinated. Another crucial point is that women with an active sex life and over 25 years of age keep their appointments with the gynecologist up to date and undergo a preventive exam, also known as a pap smear. By regularly seeing a doctor, women can be diagnosed with HPV infection before it develops into any type of cancer.

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The article is in Portuguese

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