Q: I have a low-risk subtype of HPV. Can you explain what this means?
A: The human papilloma virus (HPV) comes in 150 or more subtypes. Think of it like the many models of automobiles that all fall under the designation “Ford.” Subtypes found most often in the respiratory and genital tracts are 6 and 11. HPV infection is associated with some degree of risk of stimulating, or converting to, a carcinoma. Hence the higher risk of cervical cancer in women with HPV infection. Some subtypes are considered to have a low risk of viral carcinogenesis; others have a high risk. At BVI, the majority of our many adult patients have 6 or 11, both of which are low-risk subtypes. We also have one or two who have both 6 and 11. Then we have a handful of patients with intermediate or high risk for cancer. A few of these high-risk subtypes have in fact caused cancers in our population of ~150 adult patients with RRP. Thankfully, all have responded well to treatment and none to my memory have died from their cancer.
Q: HPV apparently has different subtypes. What can you tell me about them?
A: Human papilloma virus infection can consist of as many as 150 different subtypes. Some are related to skin infection (causing warts). Some are more common in genital or respiratory sites. Genital lesions are typically called condylomata, or genital warts. In the airway, the lesions are typically called papillomas. Commonest subtypes in the airway are types 6 and 11. These two subtypes comprise the vast majority of our patients at BVI. We have patients who have also tested positive for types 16, 18, 45, 55, and a few others.
Q: What is the relationship between the terms RRP, HPV, and Papilloma?
A: The underlying disorder is HPV (human papilloma virus) infection of the airway, especially the larynx. The virus “sets up house” chronically inside airway and stimulates a kind of proliferation called papillomas, or papillomatosis. Because these lesions tend to recur after surgical removal, the clinical syndrome has become referred to as recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (RRP).
Q: I’m told I have acid reflux, but how can that be if I don’t have heartburn?
A: It is possible to have an MI (heart attack) without any chest pain. In the same way, it is possible to have acid reflux up the esophagus without any heartburn. Beyond this, even if acid comes up into the throat at night, this may not waken you unless it is major. Think of gentle-to-moderate rain in the night as an analogy. If you do have the nighttime reflux, however, you may notice symptoms such as a dry or scratchy/sore throat, increased mucus production with throat clearing, a deep morning voice requiring more warmup if you must sing early in the day. The potential for “silent” reflux explains why physicians may suggest a treatment trial even when you have no awareness of actual acid either during the day, or at night.
Q: How should I use medical information on your website?
A: We consider information in our website as educational, not as medical advice. You should read with special interest material that deals with your symptoms or even about a diagnosis you have been given. This kind of background reading may make a consultation you have with your personal physician more productive.
Q: What do I need to know about having a consultation at BVI?
A: Peruse the sections “Contact Us” and you will find scheduling, fee schedule, insurance, travel, and lodging information. If you fail to find what you need there, feel free to contact our practice manager, Susan Leibforth, through our main number 630.724.1100, or via her email email@example.com.