HPV and Oral Cancer:
Bad News and Good News
San Clemente Dentist offers info on Oral Cancer
Scientists figured out a while back that Human Papilloma Virus HPV was finding its way into the mouths and throats of humans of both genders during oral sex, and was responsible for a rather striking uptick in the amount of oral and pharyngeal (throat) cancer. They advised that everyone reduce the number of partners, reduce the frequency of this activity, and/or get a prescription for Gardasil or another HPV vaccine.
San Clemente Dentist Dr. Eric Johnson discusses Oral Cancer
>>> View all Dr. Johnson Dental Info video clips
Topics Addressed in this video: HPV, Oral Cancer, periodontal disease, Human Papilloma Virus, HPV infection, Pharyngeal Cancer, mouth injury, Throat Cancer
HPV-18 and HPV-16 have been shown to cause oral cancer, and have been shown to enter the oral cavity during sexual activity. Smokers who catch HPV in this way are significantly more vulnerable to oral cancer than they would be "just" from smoking, as well.
Statistically, the chances of HPV-related oral or pharyngeal cancer go up with every sexual partner you have, with the variety of undertakings you perform with those partners, with drug use, and with having periodontal disease for any length of time after catching oral HPV. Furthermore, even having cancer and 'beating' it doesn't reduce your chances of a recurrence if you don't change your lifestyle to fit.
...That's the bad news....
The good news is that Dr. Angela Hong, a researcher at the University of Sydney, finished up a fairly large nearly 200-patient study of Australian oral and pharyngeal cancer sufferers. Her goal was to study the survival rates of those sufferers who were HPV positive vs. those that were HPV negative after they had been exposed to chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or surgery.
"Our study," Hong said, "found that those with [oral or pharyngeal] cancer caused by HPV had a significantly better chance of survival than those not caused by HPV... regardless of the type of treatment they had." In other words, if you have to get oral or pharyngeal cancer at some point in your lifetime, it's actually good for you if you get it because of an HPV infection. Somehow, HPV-triggered cancers are less hardy than others and respond better to treatment.
The other good news is that anyone's risk of oral cancer can be significantly reduced if they simply maintain good oral health. Cancer has a lot of potential causes, but one of the most common is when otherwise healthy cells become inflamed for a long period of time, as in periodontal disease or a recurring or un-healing injury in the mouth.
Proper attention to your brushing, flossing, and other oral health routines, coupled with regular visits to your dentist (which should include oral cancer screening!), can go a long way toward keeping the immediate risk factors of oral cancer to a minimum.
Go today and get yourself tested for oral HPV it's a simple swab test. And if you know you have it, you have a responsibility not just to yourself, but to your sexual partner(s) as well. Keep your mouth in good health, because the other option could be a long, expensive, and painful visit with cancer.