Approximately 20 million Americans are already infected with HPV, or the human papilloma virus. It’s growth rate is such that the word ‘epidemic’ is now being used and a Centers of Disease Control advisory committee has recommended that 11 and 12 year olds be vaccinated against it. So, how does this relate to your oral health?
In the 1980’s, HPV was attributed to around 16% of mouth and throat tumors. By the 2000’s, that jumped to nearly 75%. It’s been predicted that HPV-related mouth and throat cancers will outnumber cervical cancer (presently, the focus of HPV vaccination) by 2020.
Oropharyngeal cancers are malignancies of the tonsils, soft palate, base of the tongue and throat. While its well-known that HPV spreads through genital contact, which increases the risk of cervical cancer and genital warts, it is not so well known that HPV can be spread through oral sex. It is this type of transmission that is linked to mouth and throat cancers.
In addition to keeping your 6-month dental exams (which should include oral cancer screenings), alert us immediately if you have difficulty swallowing, have lumps in the neck, or experience pain in the mouth or ear. Do NOT wait until your next check-up to have these evaluated. Call (586) 739-2155 for an immediate appointment.