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HPV risk with chemo ?

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My girlfriend is 20 and was recently diagnosed with AML - M3 Subtype (15,17)- aka APL. Her prognosis is good and she is back in Induction for the next 7 days. Her treatment plan is a combination of ATRA & Chemo. Here's the question. I was married prior and know that my ex-wife had HPV - not 100% sure of the strain but I know that pre-cancerous cells were found on her cervix - Since there is no way to know if I carry the HPV Virus (I have not shown any visable symptoms)... Should I not engage in any sexual activity with my girlfriend while she is undergoing Chemo / treatment. Our fear that that with her immune system already compromised from the Leukemia is she at increased risk of potentially contracting a possibly dangerous form of HPV.

Thanks in Advance

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replied October 14th, 2010
Leukemia Answer A16647
Unfortunately, it really is not possible to know the answer to what is essentially a hypothetical question. It is probably safest to assume that you may carry the HPV virus (unfortunately, there is currently no approved HPV test for men). It is also probably the case that many women (and men) with asymptomatic chronic HPV infection are sexually active while receiving chemotherapy.

As there is no "absolutely correct" answer to your question, an intermediate course of action would be to use a condom during intercourse, and to abstain from all sexual activity if your girlfriend's white blood cell count becomes abnormally low while on chemotherapy.

As I am not involved in your girlfriend's care, the above suggestions are not to be considered medical advice. You can, however, share my suggestions with her Medical Oncologist.

All the best to your girlfiend and you.


Robert A. Wascher, MD, FACS

A landmark, evidence-based guide to a healthy cancer-prevention lifestyle, based on cutting-edge cancer research.
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