You may have seen commercials about human papillomavirus (HPV), which is the leading sexually transmitted infection affecting Americans. Perhaps you even considered getting an HPV vaccine but since it must be given before age 26, the available vaccinations may have been before your time. If you do have HPV and your doctor fails to diagnose or misdiagnoses this serious medical condition, the results can be catastrophic. Missed diagnosis of HPV can have severe health consequences, including cervical cancer and even death. Below we answer some of the most common questions about HPV and explain how medical negligence involving the virus occurs, to the detriment of patients and their loved ones.
What is HPV?
HPV stands for human papillomavirus, the most common STI in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 79 million men and women in America are currently suffering from HPV. There are numerous distinct types of HPV, all of which are different from other common viruses like HIV and herpes. Over 40 of the more than 100 types of HPV can be passed from one person to another during sexual contact. While each type of HPV has some of its own unique features, some can lead to serious health problems, including certain cancers.
What are the Symptoms of HPV?
Some people infected with human papillomavirus experience no symptoms at all. Others may have genital warts, which typically present as one or more bumps in the genital area. Genital warts vary in size and shape, but doctors should know what to look for during a general inspection of the genital region.
How is HPV Transmitted?
HPV is often transmitted via sexual contact, including oral, vaginal, and anal sex. It can also be passed from one person to another through genital touching and passed from mother to child during birth. Since HPV often shows no signs or symptoms, you can contract the virus from someone unknowingly. You can also contract HPV and experience no symptoms for years after the initial infection.
What happens if HPV is Undiagnosed or Misdiagnosed?
Some cases of HPV resolve on their own without medical treatment. However, other types of human papillomavirus can lead to genital warts and several cancers. Some of the cancers that may result from HPV include:
- Cervical cancer
- Cancers of the genitals
- Anal cancer
- Oropharyngeal cancer (tongue and tonsils)
One of the main challenges of HPV is the difficulty in testing for the virus. Currently, there is no test approved and available to test for HPV in its many forms. Often, a person won’t be diagnosed with HPV until they begin experiencing symptoms of a related condition such as genital warts or cervical cancer. However, doctors can screen female patients for cervical cancer using HPV tests. This is extremely important in women age 30 and older.
A pap smear is also a routine form of cervical cancer screening that can be used to identify problems caused by HPV. It is your doctor’s responsibility to identify possible signs of cervical cancer, pre-cancer, and any cell abnormalities in the genital area. If HPV progresses, it can lead to the development of abnormal cells which can progress into pre-cancer and cancer. Failure to diagnose cervical cancer can be fatal. The earlier your doctor detects cell abnormalities which may have been caused by the contraction of HPV, the better your prognosis will be.
Get Legal Help for HPV & Cervical Cancer Misdiagnosis in New Jersey
If you or a loved one suffered harm resulting from failure to diagnose cervical cancer or another one of the health consequences of HPV, our New Jersey medical malpractice attorneys can inform you of the legal options you may have. Pursuing damages for victims of cancer misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose infection, and other forms of medical malpractice is what we do for clients throughout New Jersey. Contact the experienced NJ medical malpractice lawyers at Fronzuto Law Group for a free consultation about your case. We can be reached anytime online or by phone by calling 973-435-4551.