Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the leading cause of cervical cancer in woman. However, HPV is also an established cause of the type of head and neck cancer that is on the rise in men in the United States according to research published in JAMA Oncology.
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.
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 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.