How HPV and Oral Cancer Are Linked?

How HPV and Oral Cancer Are Linked

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a viral infection that establishes the infection of the skin and reproductive tract to either male or female explicitly. HPV can be found mainly on the  epithelial cell of the skin or specific mucus membranes, including:

  • Nasal cavity, oral cavity, and throat
  • The inner surface of the eyelids
  • Skin inner surface and penile urethra
  • Pelvic cavity and external genitalia
  • Anus

Presently, there are more than 100 strains of HPV, of which 40 have been developed the infection of the genital tract. HPV strains are subdivided into two types:

  1. Low-risk types, these types are considered non-carcinogenic types, but they can cause genital lesions. Strains include HPV 6 and HPV 11.
  2. High-risk types, these types are linked to cancer infection. Strains include 16, 18, 31, 33, 35, 39, 45, 51, 52, 56, 58, 59, 68, 69, 73, 82. Particularly HPV 16 and HPV18, which cause about 70% of cervical cancers.

HPV infection can be transmitted through various paths such as vaginal contract, anus contract, and oral contact. Moreover, these following skin to skin contact are the possible ways of transmission:

  • Sexual intercourse with an infected partner, even when they are no symptom of the disease.
  • Manipulating the same sexual devices with an infected partner.
  • Touching the skin or the stuff of infected patient.
  • Having orgasm though oral sex with the infected partner.

The symptoms of the infection may appear after many years after being infected. This is another reason for the transmission of HPV to other people without knowing that they or the other person has HPV.

Often, men represent the majority of HPV carriers to their partner without being unaware of being infected. Unfortunately, the appearance of infection symptoms take years to be noticed since the exposure. For this reason, it is the leading factor that broadens the HPV infection to others.

Oral cancer is cancer that appears in any part of the mouth, including the lining of the lips, gums, uvula, cheek, hard palate, soft palate, tonsil gland, jawbone, upper throat, especially tongue and floor of mouth.

From previous studies, it was found that the significant risk factors for increasing the development of oral cancer are smoking or tobacco use, as well as heavy consumption of alcohol. These described individual factors increase the chances of getting oral cancer up to 6 times compared to a general person.

In addition, it was found that oral sex is one of the most significant risk factors for developing oral cancer. Others factors include:

  • Family history of diseases.
  • History of treatment using radiation therapy or radiation exposure.
  • Consumption of diets and beverages that are too hot. Since the excessive heat irritates the oral mucosa. Chronic irritation affects the changes of oral mucosa eventually become cancerous cells.
  • Oral sex with HPV infected.
  • Poor oral health, such as chronic tooth decay and chronic irritation oral cavity.
  • Inappropriate sizes of dentures that cause chronic irritation. Similarly, they may accumulate carcinogens, such as chemicals in cigarettes and alcohol, causing prolonged contact with the lining of the mouth.
  • Chewing the carcinogenic compounds, such as betal nut, betel quid, tobacco, and snuff consumption.
  • Inappropriate fruits and vegetables intake.
  • Use of Immunosuppressants in organ transplant patients.

The above data clearly demonstrates the relationship between the “HPV virus and oral cancer”. If everyone is aware of the frightfulness of these diseases, avoidance of the factors related to the increased chance of infection should be conducted, including supervision for the wellness health status of you and relatives to maximizing your wellbeing and a decent quality of life.

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From Bangkok Hospital Phuket