Study Shows Sharp Rise in HPV-Related Oral Cancers

Catherine GeeringContributed by Catherine Geering, WHNP, NCMP

new report shows that the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection known to cause genital warts and cervical cancer, is now a more common cause of throat and oral cancers than tobacco, particularly among men. Why? Certain strains of HPV can live in the mouth and can be passed on through oral sex.

What are the symptoms of HPV-related oral cancers?

HPV-related oral cancers typically present at the back of the tongue or in the tonsils or throat, versus non-HPV-related oral cancers, which usually appear on the front of the tongue, the gums or cheeks. While there are no recommended screening tests for these types of cancers, symptoms to watch for include:

  • Weight loss
  • Unexplained hoarseness
  • Consistent sore throat
  • Pain or difficulty swallowing or chewing
  • A lump in the neck
  • Non-healing mouth sores
  • Coughing up blood

How can you lower the chances of you or a loved one developing HPV-related oral cancer?

The good news about HPV-related oral cancers is that they are highly treatable. But as always, prevention is the best medicine. Here’s what you can do:

And as always, talk to your provider about any questions or concerns you may have. Or call (513) 475-UC4U to speak with someone in our Sexual Health program.

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