The Human Papillomavirus and Skin Cancer: Increasing the Risk or an Immunity-boosting Defense?
There are over 100 strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), but experts consider only a handful of them to be a risk to human health. These are the strains have been linked with an increased risk of certain cancers such as cervical cancer, vulvar cancer, penile cancer, and anal cancer. However, many of the remaining strains of HPV are commensal viruses, meaning they are common infections that do not usually cause symptoms or disease and are little more than harmless stowaways on our skin.
Prior to 2018, scientists also believed that some strains of HPV may increase the risk of nonmelanoma skin cancers. However, a recent study published by Dr. Anna Nichols, a dermatologist and an assistant professor in the Dr. Phillip Frost Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery at the University of Miami Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Dr. Tim Ioannides, from Treasure Coast Dermatology in Port St. Lucie has provided new evidence showing that HPV is an indication of already compromised immune systems, and injecting SCC patients with the HPV vaccine Gardasil 9 may be an effective treatment for tumors that have otherwise been deemed inoperable.