Warts are a tumor-like growth that often occur on the skin especially around the feet and hands, although they also appear on other parts of the body. They are caused by viruses, specifically the Human Hapilloma virus 2 and 7. They are also contagious, and hence one can transmit them to another individual.
Whenever they appear on the skin, they always come with a number of concerns. Are they dangerous? Are they cancerous? Is there any chance that they may turn cancerous?
In addressing warts and cancer, may I indicate that there is no way whatsoever that they are cancerous. The issue comes in when looking at if they can develop into any type of cancer.
Although cancer, especially skin cancer appears as a growth on the skin, it is always due to an accumulation of cells, unlike warts. However, the Human Papilloma Virus, responsible for warts, is also a causing virus of cancer. This explains why warts cause cancer over a period of time.
Among these types of warts are genital ones that are very well known to lead to cancers. Common types of cancer that are brought about this way are anal and cervical cancers. What happens is that the Human Papilloma Virus attacks the mucosal tissue within the genitals which in turn ends up causing cancer.
Away from cancer that may develop within the genitals, there are also warts within other parts of the body that may contain high risk Human Papilloma viruses. These are the virus types that may lead to cancer. A good example is the head and neck cancers that develop around the tonsils area.
For HIV positive people the case is even worse. Their immunity is low because of the decreasing CD4 count, which reduces the ability of the body to fight and kill cancerous cells. Hence, they have higher chances of their warts causing cancer.
It is not all warts that can lead to cancer. In fact most of them are benign due to having low risk HPV viruses. They do not develop into cancer at all. This however, should not be taken as a basis for ignoring a developing wart. Anytime you notice a developing wart, consult a doctor or specifically a dermatologist as soon as possible. He or she would be in the best position in advising you on how to address or treat it.
Further Reading: Removing Warts – Are Warts Dangerous?