Oral Cancers From HPV Virus

Posted on Sep 25, 2012 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

Human papilloma virus (HPV) is the nation’s most common sexually transmitted virus. At least 50% of sexually active people will have genital HPV at some time in their lives. Although awareness of HPV risk is growing, it is not commonly known that HPV can spread through oral sex and linked to diseases in the mouth.

A particular type of HPV, the high risk HPV 16, is found in cancer of the tonsils, vocal cords, base of the tongue, and oesophagus. A low risk HPV that causes genital warts may also be found in some cases of cancer of the vocal cords.

Vaccines are available and many doctors are encouraging sexually active patients to be vaccinated. For those who are not vaccinated against HPV, condoms can lower the risk of developing HPV-related diseases, such as genital warts and cervical cancer. But, since HPV can infect areas that are not covered by a condom, the risk remains high for many.

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