Human papilloma virus (HPV) is now the leading cause of head and neck cancers, according to Dr. Timothy Kelley, the Director of the Head and Neck Program and an oncological surgeon at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach, California, as published in the Los Angeles Times on January 21, 2016.
The most common causes of HPV include excessive alcohol consumption, tobacco use, and oral sex. The signs and symptoms of HPV include:
- a lump or mass in the neck
- mouth ulcers lasting over two weeks (your dentist can best visualize this)
- difficulty swallowing
- discoloration in the oral tissues (your dentist can best visualize this)
- swollen but painless tonsils
- a persistent sore throat
- numbness in the mouth or lips
The prevention of HPV includes:
- protection during or abstinence from sexual activity
- HPV vaccine for boys aged 9-26 or girls aged 11-26
- regular examinations with your physician and your dentist
Here at Venincasa Dental, Dr. Venincasa has been performing visual oral cancer examinations on all patients at least annually since 1986. We have also performed additional screening tests for those patients choosing to do so with several methods since 2001. Currently, we utilize the VELscope Oral Cancer Screening Device to see potentially cancerous oral lesions before they are clinically evident. For more on our VELscope screenings, please follow this link.
The treatment these days for HPV is highly treatable. Utilizing radiation, chemotherapy, and minimally invasive surgery, many patients can live out a very normal life. Obviously, the key here is prevention.
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