HPV, Oral Cancer and Young People: What You Should Know

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  • Between the 1980s and the year 2000 researchers were looking at some startling statistical revelations.  It took until the year 2000 for the research based on these observations to become embraced by the science community AND made public.  That announcement is now responsible for some worrisome new statistics.


    HPV, which we know is strongly associated with cervical cancer in women, is also featuring prominently as a cause of another type of cancer in young adults - oral cancer.  Health experts are much more used to seeing older, male patients present with this cancer, which was mostly associated with smoking and excessive drinking.  Today the patients that present with oral cancer look quite different. They are men and women, between the ages of 45 and 55 and their oral cancers are located on the back of the tongues and on the tonsils.  The suspect cause? HPV-16. 

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    Experts suspect that the cause of the cancers came from oral sex.  Since headlines and webcasts scream the dangers of HPV and the benefits of the HPV vaccine, experts are concerned that another message is being missed or forgotten.  HPV can cause oral cancers in men and women.  So while it is important to preach safe sex so we reduce HPV and cervical cancer rates - while it is important to talk about the Gardasil vaccine because if it's given early enough, it can prevent most cervical cancers - we need to blast a new slogan, in big letters:

    "Use a condom and practice safe sex so you significantly lower your risk of contracting oral HPV and becoming a new and young oral cancer statistic."


Published On: October 14, 2008