MOST OF US WILL BE INFECTED with human papilloma virus at some point in our lives.
There are more than 100 different types of the virus, most of which cause no symptoms and go away by themselves without treatment. Other types cause harmless growths such as verrucas and warts. The CDC says that up to 80% of Americans will have HPV infections in their lifetime and 99% will clear these infections without consequence, or even knowing that they had the infection. The body’s immune system is usually able to get rid of an HPV infection and many infections come and go without causing any problems.
Most Strains of HPV Are Harmless
There are nearly 200 different strains of HPV, most of which are harmless and not cancer causing. Out of all these, 9 are known to cause cancers, and another 6 are suspected. HPV is the leading cause of oropharyngeal cancers (the very back of the mouth and part of the throat). HPV16 is the version that is most responsible.
Oral cancer signs and symptoms include:
- An ulcer or sore that does not heal within 2-3 weeks
- Difficult or painful swallowing
- Pain when chewing
- A persistent sore throat or hoarse voice
- A swelling or lump in the mouth
- A painless lump felt on the outside of the neck, which has been there for at least two weeks
- A numb feeling in the mouth or lips
- Constant coughing
- An ear ache on one side which persists for more than a few days
These symptoms are both from cancers from HPV and tobacco and alcohol.
We Care About Your Total Health
We at Dr. Michael Bell’s office are concerned about our patients total health. At every exam we perform a full and thorough Oral Cancer Screening. This screening also includes the use of our OralID adjunctive screening device. It uses fluorescence technology to help us clinicians identify oral abnormalities. It is easy to use and non-threatening to patients. Healthy oral tissue shine or fluoresces in the field and abnormal tissue appears dark.
Early discovery and diagnosis is the key to all oral cancers!