[Question #4083] HPV, FLAT WARTS, AND CANCER

32 months ago
Hello, thank you for taking time to respond. I have what are known are flat warts on my hands and arms. I'm seriously worried about getting cancer. I dont have any genital warts at all. I want to understand the difference between high risk and low risk strains and if the wart causing kind are the cancer causing kind?  Should I be concerned with cancer?
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
32 months ago
Welcome to the forum. Thanks for your question.

I'm skeptical that the spots on your hands and arms really are warts, which are rare on the arms, hands, or anywhere on the upper body (except hand warts in children). Were they diagnosed by a knowledgeable physician, such as a dermatologist? Warts, flat or otherwise, rarely last more than a year or so. If the spots have lasted longer, that's further evidence for something else.

In the event they really are warts, the types of human papillomavirus (HPV) that cause hand and foot warts are different than those that infect the genital area. They also are generally not the same HPV types that can cause cancer.

Assuming you have been sexually active with more than 3-4 partners in your life, you can safely assume you have (or have had) genital HPV infection, perhaps more than once. However, this would be unrelated to the things on your hands and arms. From all you say, I see no reason to be concerned about cancer related to HPV.

I suggest you read up on genital HPV. Excellent information is available from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (www.cdc.gov/std) and from the sponsor of this forum, the American Sexual Health Association (http://www.ashasexualhealth.org/stdsstis/hpv/). Also see an expert, preferably a dermatologist, to confirm the cause of the skin problem. Also feel free to return with a follow-up comment or question if anything isn't clear.

HHH, MD

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32 months ago
Thanks for responding DR. I've seen a few different doctors and one said no one said yes. I also has an online visit with a dermatologist and showed her pics and she thought it was sebhorreic keratosis,  however I truly believe they're flat warts. They're skin colored and all over my hands and arms. You say that if indeed they're warta then they're not the cancer causing strain of hpv. I really didnt know the differences. I know I can ask 2 more questions and you've limited time. I dont know how long they've been there honestly. Would I be at a high risk for cancer with these warts?
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
32 months ago
I remain skeptical about warts and have to suspect the doctor who said "yes" just isn't very knowledgeable about HPV. But seborrheic keratosis also doesn't sound right. In any case, that you "truly believe" they are warts is nonsense:  assuming you are not medically trained (and even if you are), I cannot image a worse kind of evidence. Don't be silly. In any case, HPV involving the skin of your arms etc almost certainly is not a cancer risk.

Find a doctor who knows what s/he is talking about. I repeat my advice about seeing a dermatologist. In the meantime, don't waste time and emotional energy worrying about the cause or the risk of cancer.
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32 months ago
Thank you Doctor. So basically I have no risk of cancer as you're saying which does help calm my nerves a bit. I do have one final thing to ask. My wife and son and daughter all had this really bad cough for well over a month. I seem to have it and have for a bit. Would that be in any relation to Oral HPV?
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
32 months ago
Not knowing the cause of your skin problem, I cannot say whether or not it might increase your risk of skin cancer, but I doubt it. For sure no cancer risk from HPV. Also there is no possible connection with your family's cough problem. Even if you have HPV, it doesn't cause cough. Obviously you all had a garden variety respiratory virus, some of which often cause lingering cough.

That concludes the two follow up comments and replies included with each question and so ends this thread. I do hope the discussion has been helpful, and that you'll follow up with a doctor to properly diagnose your skin problem, which probably has nothing to do with HPV. Believe it!
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