HPV or the Human Papillomavirus is a group of viruses and is the most common sexually transmitted virus.
But what has this got to do with dentistry? Well, HPV is most commonly attributed to causing genital warts or cervical cancer but HPV can also cause oral cancer. HPV is the leading cause of oro-pharyngeal cancers and men are just as likely to develop it as women. The incidence of oral cancer has increased dramatically over the last decade, and over almost 70% of diagnoses are in men.
Early Detection is Vital.
HPV in the mouth and throat is the leading cause of oropharyngeal cancer, a common form of oral cancer. Some of the most difficult cancer to detect is oral cancer related to the human papillomavirus. In the early stages, there are almost no symptoms. This is why it is so important to go to the dentist for regular check-ups.
Many times before on the Defacto Dentists Blog we have discussed how dentists are able to recognise the initial signs and symptoms of general health problems, not just problems with our teeth. In many cases, dentists can detect the disease early, which makes the dental community the first line of defence against oral cancer.
Oral Cancer Screenings.
Dentists or doctors carry out oral cancer screening. Most dentists perform an examination of your mouth during a routine dental visit to screen for oral cancer. Some dentists may use additional tests to aid in identifying areas of abnormal cells in your mouth.
What to look out for…
Some key symptoms of oral cancer to look out for are a persistent sore throat, hoarseness, difficulty eating/swallowing, enlarged lymph nodes, earachesand unexplained weight loss. If these symptoms last over 2 weeks, it would be a good idea to make an appointment with your doctor to arrange a screening.
While teenage girls in UK high schools are receiving immunisation against HPV, boys remain unprotected. The overwhelming majority of dentists and GPs are backing calls for the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination programme to be expanded to school-aged boys. This is according to a poll that was carried out by HPV Action during World Immunisation Week in April 2017. Peter Baker, HPV Action Campaign Director, said:
“HPV affects men and women equally and both sexes therefore deserve equal protection though a national vaccination programme. It is now time for the Government’s vaccination advisory committee to look up from its financial spreadsheets and act to end the suffering of those men and women affected by easily-preventable diseases caused by HPV.”
We certainly think this sounds like a good idea. What do you think?