• 3xsurvivor

    Unfortionately, what has made cervical cancer incidence drop and survival rise is not reductions in the spread of the virus that causes the cancer but better awareness of the risks and monitoring of the virus and pre-cancerous signs by women during regual gynecological exams.

    The same is not true for two other HPV-related cancers, anal cancer and oral cancer.  While I am not familiar with anal cancer, the growth of oral HPV-linked oral cancers has been sufficiently rapid in the past five years that in 2012 there are more HPV-linked oral cancers than cervical cancers.   In addition, by the end of this decade, there will be more HPV-linked cancers of just the oropharnx (the back of the throat, tonsils and base of the tongue) as Cerviceal cancers. 

     

    What is clear is that adults who have had vaginal or oral (male on female) sex with 6 partners over one’s lifetime has a 9 times greater risk to develop he cancer than individuals who have neve had sex and three times the risk of those that have had 1-5 partners.  But armed with that fact, ther eis little anyone can do to prevent transmission, and even knowing if one has the HPV virus in one’s mouth tells little about the risk for developing oral cancer.

     

    What is clear is all a person can do is take actions to minimize the impact of oral cancer treatment if they such a diagnosis arises.   The action involves two steps.  1) Be aware of oral cancer symptoms and see a dentist if the symptoms last more than two weeks.  Dentists are more capable than general practicioners when doing an initial screening for oral cancer as they are trained to identify both potential tumors and ares that look suspicious but the existence of a tumor is unclear. 2) Have regualar dental exams that includes a visual and tactile examination for oral cancer. 

     

    While this will not reduce the number of oral cancer diagnoses it will result in more diagnoses of smaller tumors that reduces the severity of the treatment and the side effects that are currently common for HPV-related oral cancer survivors.

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