HPV and Head & Neck Cancer

As smoking rates have decreased, cases of throat cancer should be decreasing, but instead, they are increasing. Specifically, a type of head and neck cancer known as oropharyngeal cancer has doubled. This is because of the human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes a large majority of throat cancers.

Knowing what HPV is and how you get it is as important as preventing it. HPV is a sexually transmitted infection that can infect the oropharynx, anus, and genitals. There are many types of HPV, which can have varying effects on the body, such as cancer or warts.

Most head and neck cancers caused by HPV are in the throat, in the base of the tongue and the tonsils. Knowing how HPV affects your body is so important because HPV now causes most oropharyngeal cancers in the U.S. If you have an oropharyngeal tumor it is important to get it tested for HPV.

The most effective method for preventing HPV-caused oropharyngeal cancer is through the prevention of HPV itself. The HPV vaccine is considered the best way to achieve this. While initially developed to protect against cervical and other reproductive system cancers, this vaccine is also effective in guarding against the strains of HPV that can lead to oropharyngeal cancers. Therefore, getting vaccinated is the optimal way to safeguard yourself against HPV and lower your risk of developing oropharyngeal cancer.

If you are worried you have HPV or a cancer caused by HPV it is important to reach out to your doctor.

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