Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the leading cause of cervical cancer in woman. However, HPV is also the established cause of the type of head and neck cancer that is on the rise in both men and women in the United States according to research published in JAMA Oncology. While men are at risk, as a carrier of the HPV virus, more than 80% of women will have the HPV virus by 50 years old. HPV can arise from skin to skin contact and other sexual activity.
Over the past 3 decades, there has been a drop in the incidence of head and neck cancers caused by tobacco and alcohol, and a rise in the incidence of head and neck cancers caused by HPV, according to a study published in Oral Oncology in 2015. The reason for a rapid rise in HPV-positive cancer of the oropharynx is not totally clear, but it is likely related to changes in sexual behavior in recent decades, including oral sex becoming more common.
Oral cancer will be diagnosed in nearly 30,000 people in the United States this year and will cause approximately 7,000 deaths. It is the 6th most common cancer in men. Oral cancer also spreads, or advances, quickly. However, early detection can help avoid this issue. Oral cancer typically affects people over the age of 40 years old and it is twice as likely in men.
Like mainland doctors. most Hawaii doctors do not check the oral cavity during a routine exam. When you come to our dental office in Honolulu, we will typically offer a quick and painless exam to help identify this type of cancer. Ala Moana Dentistry believes Increasing education about the role of HPV infection as a cause of several types of cancer, along with increasing HPV vaccination rates, may help to prevent multiple HPV-related cancers in future generations.
At Ala Moana Dentistry in Honolulu, we take oral cancer seriously and make very effort to detect it before it becomes life threatening. Frequently, we will ask our patients to take a 5 minute, painless examination.