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What you should know Human Papillomavirus (HPV)?

Joey + Rory Silenced by Cervical Cancer

Sadly the country and bluegrass singer-songwriter Joey Feek passed away from cervical cancer in March 2016 at only 40 years old. Joey was not only a prominent singer, but was also the mother of a young daughter with Down syndrome. Joey and her singing duo husband Rory Feek helped remind society that children with Down syndrome like their daughter Indiana are more similar than different from other children. Unfortunately, Joey was diagnosed with cervical cancer shortly after Indiana was born and passed away shortly after Indiana's 2nd birthday.

Joey and Rory extensively chronicled Joey's cancer struggle in the news and on social media. We learned that although Rory underwent radical gynecological surgery to eradicate the cancer, her cervical cancer metastasized and spread to her colon. Although it was reported that Joey died from both cervical and colon cancer, a cancer type is named based on the part of the body where it first started. This is the case even if the cancer later spreads to other body parts or had already metastasized when first diagnosed.

As tragic as it was, the American singing duo known as Joey + Rory helped spread awareness of cervical cancer by openly sharing their personal story. Many people are not aware that cervical cancer is actually among the most common cancers in women worldwide. Early detection of cervical cancer with PAP smears (also called Pap tests) saves lives as cervical cancer is highly curable when detected at early stages or as pre-cancerous lesions.

The most important risk factor for cervical factor is human papilloma virus (HPV) infection, virtually all cervical cancers are associated with HPV infection. There are over a hundred types of HPV and more than a dozen strains are referred to "high-risk" types that can cause abnormal cells to form on the cervix over time. About two thirds of all cervical cancers are caused by HPV 16 and HPV 18 strains. Abnormal cervical cells caused by HPV infection can further mutate, proliferate and develop into cervical cancer if not excised. Although a PAP test doesn't diagnose HPV, it is a screening test for abnormal cells that can be caused by HPV infection.

The prevailing thinking is that HPV infection is not sufficient in of itself to cause cervical cancer. Environmental factors are at play also. For example, women with lower immune systems such as those that are HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) positive or have AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) are at a higher risk of developing cervical cancer than healthy women. It is increasingly being recognized that the immune system plays a key role in fighting many different types of cancer. HIV attacks and weakens the immune system, reducing the number of CD4+ positive T cells. T cells, also known as T lymphocytes, play a central role in cell-mediated immunity. Loss of functional CD4 T cells leaves one vulnerable to opportunistic infections and certain types of cancers, including cervical cancer.

Smoking is another risk factor for HPV induced cervical cancer. Tobacco by-products are absorbed through the lungs and carried in the bloodstream to organs throughout the body. It is thought that tobacco by-products found in the cervical mucus of women who smoke cause damage to the DNA of cervical cells. DNA damage can lead to mutations and contribute to the development of cervical cancer. Furthermore, smoking in of itself makes the immune system less effective in fighting HPV and other infections.

The HPV vaccine Gardasil (Silgard) developed primarily for preteen boys and girls can prevent HPV infection. This is because the development of immunity to HPV through vaccination can decrease the risk of cervical cancer and other cancers induced by sexually transmitted HPV infection such as oral cancer or penile cancer in men.

It's impossible to know all of the risk factors involved in the development of Joey Feek's cervical cancer or any cancer for that matter. Today's researchers rely on a multitude of tools to detect and classify cancers and causal agents in a never ending quest to elucidate and address underlying mechanisms involved in disease development.

For example, the HPV16/HPV18/HPV6+11 Multiplex PCR Kit (Catalog #MBS598265) offered by MyBioSource is used for detecting and distinguishing high-risk HPV16, HPV18 and HPV6+11 in samples such as cervical cells, genital swabs, and paraffin sections. Likewise, the Uterine Cervix Cancer of High-Risk HPV Genotype Related (15 Types of HPV Genotypes/ 2 channels) PCR Kit (Catalog #MBS598263) can detect 15 types of high-risk HPV linked to cervical cancer.

Whereas the real-time HPV PCR Kits detect HPV genetic material, the Papillomavirus IgM (HPV-IgM) (Catalog #MBS9314703) and Papillomavirus IgG (HPV-IgG) (Catalog #MBS9315865) ELISA Kits detect antibodies against HPV in serum and biological samples. The presence of antibodies against an infectious disease is an indication of exposure to the disease and subsequent immune response. MyBioSource offers a leading-edge product portfolio for studying HPV. Products include PCR and ELISA Kits, recombinant proteins and antibodies.


  • What you should know Human Papillomavirus (HPV)?
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