Moms Protect Your Children
HPV has been shown to cause oral cancer. The HPV vaccination can help prevent the disease and thus prevent the oral cancers linked to this virus.
More and more the medical science community is learning that our oral health is directly related to our body’s over all health.
Studies have shown a definitive link between oral cancer and the contraction of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). About 12000 people ages 15-24 are infected daily within the United States alone and the vast majority of these people will never know that they have contracted HPV.
Some facts about HPV:
- HPV is the most common sexually transmitted virus and infection in the US.
- There are close to 200 different strains of HPV, most of these strains however are harmless and have been shown not to cause cancer. Out of all these different strains, 9 are widely known to cause cancers, and another 6 are suspected to cause cancers. In regards to oral cancers we are primarily concerned with the number 16 strain of HPV which is also associated with cervical, anal, and penile cancers.
- HPV is known to cause 70% of cervical cancers.
- A person can have HPV for many years without ever knowing it because the virus often has no signs or symptoms that you will notice, and the immune response to clear HPV is not a bodily process that you will be aware of. If you test HPV positive, there is no sure way to know when you were infected, or who gave it to you. People can carry HPV for many years, and in some cases even decades, before it is detected or it develops into something more serious such as various forms of cancers. Luckily the vast majority of these medical cases, even with a high risk version of HPV known to cause cancers, will not develop cancer.
- Testing positive for an HPV infection does not mean that you or your partner is participating in sexual activity outside of your relationship. HPV is believed to have long periods of inactivity or dormancy during which it may hide itself completely for decades; these are periods of time that you will test negative for the virus.
- If your long term sexual partner has HPV it is extremely likely that you have HPV as well. However, the majority of human’s immune systems will clear the virus in under 2 years.
- Condoms can lower your chances of contracting or spreading the virus to your sexual partners, if used all the time and the right way. Even when used properly, HPV can infect areas that are not covered by a condom which is why condoms are not a recommended preventative measure against the virus itself.
Oral Cancer and HPV
HPV has been found to be the leading cause of oropharyngeal cancers (these are the cancers localized to the very back of the mouth, a part of the mouth that is usually associated with the throat), the virus accounts for a very small portion of cancers caused in other areas of the mouth. The strain of HPV most commonly associated with causing oral cancers is HPV16 which is one of the strains that is preventable with the HPV vaccines called Gardasil and Cervarix.
The fastest growing segment of our population that contact oral and oropharyngeal cancers are otherwise healthy, non-smokers between the ages of 25-50 specifically white, non-smoking males aged 35-55 have been proven most at risk, at rates of 4 to 1 over females of the same demographic.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (NACIP) recommends HPV vaccination for girls ages 11 and 12, as well as girls and women ages 13 to 26 if they haven’t received the vaccine already. The Gardasil vaccine has also been approved for use in boys and men, 9 through 26 years old. These vaccines have been proven to be most effective if given to children in the early stages of their lives before they become sexually active. If you have already been exposed to the virus, the vaccines will not for work you. In light of the vaccination being preventative rather than curative, conducting the vaccination process at pre-sexual ages will bring the most protection.
For more information on oral and other cancers that can be linked to HPV please visit the Oral Cancer Foundations website here.
We include oral cancer screening with the Velscope light in our exams.
Call to book your appointment today at 403-266-6868