Thursday, March 8, 2012

Oral Cancer and HPV

By Dr. Doyle Williams

Oral Cancer will inflict 37,000 people this year. It will cause 8,000 deaths. It is a silent killer that takes the life of one person every hour.

Oral cancer can often be detected with a simple screening, and is often easily treatable in its early stages. But all too often it goes unnoticed until it’s too late.

Warning signs of oral cancer include:

  • A red or white patch in your mouth or a sore that hasn’t healed within 14 days.
  • Sore throat or ear pain caused by inflammation in the back of the throat. If the pain lingers after two weeks, consult with your physician.
  • A lump in your neck, which may signify the cancer is spreading out from its original site.
  • Alteration in the quality of your voice or hoarseness for no apparent reason that hasn’t disappeared after about a week.

  • Today, many cases of oral cancer are being caused by Human Papilloma Virus, commonly known as HPV, an STD that nearly 80 percent of Americans will be infected with at least once in their lifetime.

    There are more than 120 strands of HPV, not all of which are cancerous. The virus can be passed through sexual activity, and in most cases has no side-effects and is gone within a year. But in rare cases, HPV can turn into oral cancer, making it all the more important to be screened regularly for both HPV and oral cancer.

    So don’t forget to insist on an oral cancer screening with your dentist at least once a year, even if you have no known risk factors like tobacco and alcohol.