Oral cancer and HPV
Human Papilloma Virus, or HPV, is a very common virus which is typically spread through sexual contact and it’s the most common of all of the sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that up to 80 percent of Americans will have HPV infections in their lifetime.
In 2016, the CDC reported that 60-70 percent of a certain type of throat cancer (oropharyngeal cancers, which includes the soft palate, base of tongue and tonsils) were traced to HPV. As of 2016, there were more than 10,000 cases a year of in the United States that can be traced to HPV.
Most people never know they are infected with HPV as 99 percent of the time, the body’s immune system will clear HPV infections without consequence, and with no noticeable symptoms.
While there is no routine test to uncover HPV-associated oral diseases, you should visit your dentist regularly for checkups. He or she will likely look for signs of oral cancer or other mouth problems at each exam.
It is also important for adolescents and young adults to be vaccinated to help prevent these cancers. Ask your physician about available vaccines. Prevention is always better than treatment.