If almost everyone has HPV now, then why don't all women get cervical cancer? There are around a hundred varieties of HPV, but only a handful are linked with cancer. Some of the others are responsible for genital warts.
Other HPV strains cause regular warts, but one strain does not lead to another. I mean, if you have regular warts on your hand, that won't cause genital warts. You have to have been infected with that specific HPV strain.
But not every woman who is exposed to the worst varieties will develop cancer. For some, dysplasia will occur, but it will revert to normal in a few months of detection.
Some people argue that HPV is not the cause of cervical cancer. They say that it's just a coincidence. I have considered that idea, but I still think that HPV is responsible. Just like not everyone who smokes gets lung cancer, not everyone with HPV gets cervical cancer. Some of us are simply more susceptible.
Most women's immune systems rapidly put the virus under control, and it never causes them any problems. They may not even show a positive HPV on their Pap smear, depending on timing and frequency of Pap smears.
There is evidence that HPV causes genetic changes that lead to cancer. There is a lot of duplication in our cell processes, so even if the virus causes changes to a cell, cancer may still not develop. The body may identify and destroy the abnormal cells automatically. To become cancer, changes to the DNA have to happen and not be corrected.
That's again where the immune system may prevent it. The body is very good at recognizing that a cell is abnormal, and then it works to eliminate it. Researchers think that HPV works on "tumor suppressor genes." This type of gene stops a cell from multiplying. When HPV gets into the cell's DNA, it makes two proteins that bind and break down tumor suppressor genes. Then the cells multiply endlessly, and that's the problem.
But in this case, it doesn't happen quickly. The cancer develops slowly, over years of HPV being present in the body. The big question that nobody has answered yet is why more women exposed to the particularly bad strains of HPV do not develop cancer. Is it just luck?
But for those who do, then the questions are how invasive is it, and what should be done about it.