With So Many People Infected, Understanding the Connection Between HPV and Oral Cancer is More Important than Ever
Oral cancer is on the rise, particularly among younger people, thanks in large part to the spread of the human papilloma virus, or HPV. So understanding the connection between HPV and oral cancer is more important than ever because, as with all cancers, the earlier it is diagnosed, the greater the likelihood of successful treatment and survival.
That’s why at Downtown Dental Associates of Portland, we include a screening for oral cancer with every exam because we know it’s a simple way to save lives.
Once thought to be a cancer of older people, oral cancer is touching predominantly younger people now because they are sexually active and more likely to acquire HPV.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 80 percent of Americans will have HPV at some point in their lifetimes. For most, the virus will pass through their lives without their ever knowing they had it because the human immune system will fight it off in about two years. For a small number of people, though, it is the beginning of a nightmare.
Some facts about HPV and oral cancer:
- HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease. Every day approximately 12,000 people ages 15 to 24 are infected with HPV.
- Of the nearly 200 strains of HPV, nine are known to cause cancers, and another 6 are suspected of causing cancers.
- HPV can lie dormant for years or even decades, so there is almost no way to know who gave it to you if you are diagnosed with HPV.
- You can have HPV and never know it because it often has no symptoms and you will not be aware of your immune system clearing your body of the virus.
For more information about oral cancer and its connection to HPV, please visit the Oral Cancer Foundation.