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Can Warts Be Cancerous?


Two strains of the human papilloma virus that cause warts, HPV-16 and HPV-18, have been linked to cervical, anal and other genital region cancers. The former shows up in two out of every three cases of cervical cancer in North America. Half of the 400,000 individuals afflicted by cervical cancer around the world every year die from it.

Blocked Proteins

Cancerous forms of warts may impede the normal growth of cells by means of the E6 protein. Researchers believe that this protein interferes with a cell’s ability to grow and communicate. Two other proteins in a normal cell that connect together like a lock and key are blocked by E6.

Normally, as human cells replicate, a portion of them are automatically differentiated through the process as terminally dead, shutting themselves down so that healthier cells support replication. Or they may try to request help to become normal again. Researchers believe that the signals by which damaged cells communicate with, and ask for help from, other cells is interfered with by E6.


Women who get regular pap tests can be almost sure to catch cervical cancer at the earliest stages, thereby allowing them to overcome it. Other ways to diminish wart cancer risk include quitting smoking, if the person is a smoker; being monogamous sexually; and using condoms during sex.

There are also vaccines to treat wart cancer. Recently, the shot that is given to women to try and prevent cervical cancer has also been found to be an effective deterrent for male genital warts. An extensive study involving more than a dozen countries and 4,000 subjects found that this female cancer shot was effective for men in 90% of the cases. The research was conducted over four years.

Genital warts are one of the leading forms of male sexually transmitted diseases. The cancer shot is an attractive form of treatment, because sexual partners often do not beforehand divulge to a partner that they have the warts.



AP – “Wart Virus Linked to Cancer”, February 11, 2009, Retrieved December 1, 2011 from

(2) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Human Papillomavirus, Retrieved December 1, 2011 from

(3) Times of India – “Cancer Shots May Combat Genital Warts”, February 7, 2011, Retrieved December 1, 2011 from

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