Studies have now confirmed that there is a link between the HPV (Human Papillomaviruses) and oral and cervical cancer. Understanding HPV and this connection can help determine if a specific test may be right for you. First, here are some common questions regarding HPV*:
What are human papillomaviruses, and how are they transmitted?
Human papillomaviruses (HPVs) are a group of more than 150 related viruses. They are called papillomaviruses because certain types may cause warts, or papillomas, which are benign (noncancerous) tumors.
Some HPVs, such as those that cause the common warts that grow on hands and feet, do not spread easily. However, more than 40 HPV types are sexually transmitted, and these HPVs spread very easily through genital contact. Some types of sexually transmitted HPVs cause cervical cancer and other types of cancer. These are called high-risk (carcinogenic) HPVs. Other sexually transmitted types of HPV do not appear to cause cancer and are called low-risk HPVs.
Although genital HPV infections are very common, most occur without any symptoms and go away without any treatment within a few years. However, some HPV infections can persist for many years. Persistent infections with high-risk HPV types can cause cell abnormalities. If untreated, areas of abnormal cells, called lesions can sometimes develop into cancer.
What is the association between HPV infection and cancer?
Persistent HPV infections are now recognized as the cause of essentially all cervical cancers. It was estimated that, in 2010, about 12,000 women in the United States would be diagnosed with this type of cancer and more than 4,000 would die from it. Cervical cancer is diagnosed in nearly half a million women each year worldwide, claiming a quarter of a million lives annually.
HPVs also cause some cancers of the anus, vulva, vagina, and penis. In addition, oral HPV infection causes some cancers of the oropharynx (the middle part of the throat, including the soft palate, the base of the tongue, and the tonsils)
It has been estimated that HPV infection accounts for approximately 5 percent of all cancers worldwide.
How can I find out if I have HPV?
There is a simple painless test that consists of obtaining a sample of saliva to determine who is at increased risk of HPV related cancers. Here at Cosmetic Dentistry of San Antonio, Dr. Edward Camacho in his efforts to help raise awareness of oral cancer is now offering this simple test. “This is such an easy simple test and offering this to patients just makes sense,” Dr. Camacho states, “especially since my practice philosophy incorporates the overall health of my patients.” The cost of the test is $159.00. Dr. Camacho also uses the Velscope, a special light that can detect intraoral tissue changes not seen by the naked eye. “I am committed to providing the very best care possible to my patients by providing them with resources such as HPV testing, Velscope oral cancer screenings and wellness data posted on my website to help them and their families live longer and healthier lives”, says Dr. Camacho.
*All data and statistics taken from The National Cancer Institute website.