Can HPV Put You at Risk For Oral Cancer?

In recent years, many professionals in the healthcare industry have placed a strong emphasis on the dangers of being infected with sexually transmitted diseases and how very easy they can be to contract. One of the most researched, spoken about, and taught about is the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Though there are nearly 200 different strands of the virus, persistent infection with some types of HPV may progress to precancerous lesions and invasive cancer.

While HPV is mostly attributed to cervical cancer in women, Michael Goone DDS, a respected dentist in Skokie, Illinois, explains that one of the more recent investigations in dentistry and oncology has shown that young adults who are sexually active and engage in oral sex are at a greater risk for oral cancers that may be caused by HPV. Therefore, while in past years dentists recommended oral cancer screening for adult patients, it is now wise to start screening regularly as soon as patients become sexually active. Although oral cancers can be some of the most aggressive, the odds of beating the disease increase greatly when diagnosed early on.

Dentists have always visually screened for abnormal lesions or changes in oral tissue, but now promote the use of advanced technology to catch abnormalities before they progress. One of the best methods for screening patients for oral cancer, Dr. Goone explains, is Vizilite Plus. To use this oral cancer detection system, patients are instructed to rinse with a drying agent that dries out the tissues of the mouth, he says. Then, the dentist shines a wavelength light inside of the mouth while looking to see if there are any areas in the mouth that glow from the light. If there are any area that become illuminated, this indicates that there may be cellular changes in the tissue. Although this does not automatically mean cancer, it does mean that a dentist needs to examine the area further to either rule out cancer or diagnose it appropriately.

This service is offered to all patients when they come in for their appointments, Dr. Goone says, and is recommended at least once a year. With the technology available to detect oral cancer early on, it only makes sense to take advantage of it.

*Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your healthcare provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with an appropriate healthcare provider.

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