Oral HPV and Oral Cancer: Are you at risk?

What is HPV?

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most common virus groups in the world. There are many different types of HPV. Medical research shows that certain high-risk types of HPV are linked to approximately 90% of cervical cancers. Similarly, recent studies show that these same high-risk types cause cancers of the mouth, tongue, tonsils, and throat areas.

How do people get HPV?

Low risk HPV can be transmitted by close contact between people. However, the more serious types of HPV (high-risk) that may lead to cervical cancer or oral cancer are known to be sexually transmitted. Other avenues of transmission may occur. Both males and females are at risk.

How common are HPV-related diseases?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 20 million Americans are currently infected with HPV. Another 6 million people become newly infected each year.

How do I know if I have an Oral HPV infection?

Early oral HPV infections do not typically cause any clinical signs or symptoms; thus, a visual exam would not detect people that may already have an infection caused by oral HPV. A simple test called OraRisk® HPV is available here with Dr. Adams. Together we can detect oral HPV infections very early. Just a 30 second “swish and gargle” with sterile saline solution. The sample is sent to a lab for analysis and Dr. Adams will contact you to discuss the results.

Who should be tested for Oral HPV?

  •  Individuals with “traditional” risk factors for oral cancer such as smoking and alcohol
  • Males and females that are sexually active
  • Individuals with a history of oral cancer

 If I test positive for Oral HPV, Does it mean I have cancer?

No. A positive test does not necessarily mean that cancer is present, nor does it mean that you will definitely develop cancer. The earlier the risk for oral cancer is detected or the earlier oral cancer itself is detected, the more likely it can be treated successfully. Oral HPV is now a known cause for cancers of the mouth and throat areas; it is important for you and your dental professional to know if an oral HPV infection is present and if so, which type of oral HPV infection is present. The OraRisk® HPV test helps you and your dental professional better understand your risk for oral HPV-related oral cancer.

For more information visit The National Cancer Institute

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