Are Warts Something to Worry About?

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Warts are a skin affliction that affect many people at some point of their lives somewhere or the other. Warts don’t discriminate in where they appear, and can pop up on your hands, feet, face, neck, or anywhere else that the virus causing warts can get into. Many people become concerned about warts and their potential link to cancer, this article should clear up whether warts are in fact anything to be concerned about.

Are warts dangerous?

Fortunately warts are benign most of the time, and the only cases in which they do pose any kind of threat is in situations where your immune system has been compromised or weakened in some way. The immune system is basically your body’s natural form of defence against foreign disease bearing materials and organisms like bacteria and viruses. Unfortunately because of its important role in this respect, some viruses and bacteria target your immune system first to give themselves a better chance of surviving and flourishing in your boy, which is what disease bearing organisms aim to do. The most well-known illness of the immune system is HIV, or the human immune virus, which causes the notorious condition known across the world as AIDS (acute immunodeficiency syndrome). People suffering from HIV or AIDS will have an immune system that is unable to effectively deal with conditions that a healthy immune system would normally have no problems with, meaning that normally benign viruses like the wart causing HPV can be more of a concern.

Similarly warts can be a bigger concern for people who suffer from cancer or have had an organ transplant. Cancer will often involve a weakening of the immune system as it is a disease that can attack many bodily systems. Treatments for cancer like chemotherapy and radiotherapy can also, unfortunately, weaken the immune system because of their aggressive nature, leaving the body vulnerable to infections. Organ transplants require the administration of drugs that suppress the immune system, and while this may seem like an odd thing to do, applying these drugs is critical to a successful organ transplant surgery. Placing a new organ in the body will often trigger an immune response because ultimately a new organ is one that doesn’t really belong to your body, and if allowed to go on, this immune response will attack the new organ quite vigorously and pose a serious risk to the health of the recipient. As such the immune system is suppressed during and after a transplant, which like cancer, HIV, and AIDS, can leave your body vulnerable to bacteria and viruses that would otherwise be quite harmless.

Can warts cause cancer?

The human papillomavirus which causes warts exists in over 130 different forms which are broadly split into two categories, low and high risk HPV. Most warts are caused by low risk HPV, and these are the typical, benign, and largely ‘safe’ form of the infection. A minority of HPVs however, are categorised as high risk, which means that they can lead to the development of certain types of cancers. The strongest link between HP and cancer seems to be through genital infections leading to cervical cancer, a condition which affects about 500,000 women every year across the world. There are at present links to cancers of the anus and oropharynx, but the most compelling evidence remains for cervical cancer.

It is important to be aware of these risks, but again generally speaking warts are not a cause for alarm. As always it is of course safer to err on the side of caution and see a doctor if you are worried about the condition, but remember that the HPV infections that lead to cancer seem to be based on particular parts of the body like the genitals and oral cavity (mouth).

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