Oral Cancer & HPV

Oral cancer, or cancer of the mouth, can be detected in early stages because the mouth is an area of the body where changes can be seen easily.

HPV is a virus that infects certain skin surfaces, including the mouth, throat, tongue, tonsils and others. Infection occurs when these areas come into contact with other skin surfaces infected with the virus.

How to Perform an Oral Cancer Self-Exam

With a bright light and mirror:

  • Remove dentures (if any)
  • Look and feel inside the lips and front of gums
  • Tilt head back to inspect and feel roof of the mouth
  • Pull the cheek out to see its inside surface and the back of the gums
  • Pull out tongue and look at all of its surfaces
  • Feel for lumps or enlarged lymph nodes in both sides of the neck including under the lower jaw

Oral Cancer Symptoms Include

  • White and/or red patches in the mouth
  • Abnormal lump or thickening of mouth tissue
  • Chronic sore throat that bleeds easily
  • Hoarseness
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Lump in the neck

Links between HPV and Oral Cancer

There are over 80 types of HPV; two types (HPV 16 and 18) have been linked to oral cancer. In a recent study, 25% of oral cancer patients’ tissue samples tested HPV positive, with HPV 16 present in 90% of them.

Prevent Oral Cancer

It’s a fact: seventy-five percent of those diagnosed with oral cancer have used tobacco at some time in their lives. Besides not using tobacco, here are some tips that help people avoid oral cancer:

  • Practice good oral hygiene and nutrition
  • Limit alcohol use
  • Be sure oral appliances and dentures fit well
  • Avoid contracting HPV

Talk to Your Dentist

Early detection increases chances of cure. Talk to your dentist for more information.

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