About 25 million women have got an infection with a strain of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Over 3 million have one of the four strains provoking cervical cancer and genital warts. HPV is a sexually transmitted virus and oral sex has been linked to HPV-connected oral and oropharyngeal cancers in both women and men, as the result of a research made earlier this year at Johns Hopkins University, Maryland.
A new research led by James J. Closmann, BS, DDS, has found that vaccines developed to treat genital HPV could decrease the risk of these cancers.
The researchers discovered that oral and oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OOSCC) are caused by the same high-risk HPV strains that induce cervical cancer. A recent vaccine developed to treat patients with HPV-caused cervical cancer could have an impact on women's oral health.
"More than 100 strains of HPV have been identified. They have been shown to cause other benign and malignant disorders, which now include those in the mouth. Nearly 30,000 new cases of oral and oropharyngeal cancer are reported each year. It's possible that oral and oropharyngeal cancers could be reduced if vaccination were more widespread; however, additional research is needed." said Dr. Closmann.
Further research could lead to a comprehensive test for dentists at patients' semiannual visits. But a stomatologist can perform a head and neck check to detect early signs, even without a specific test.
The link between HPV and oral and oropharyngeal cancers should make patients pay a visit to the dentist twice a year for an early detection.
"Visiting the dentist on a regular basis is an important factor in the detection of any oral health complication. Taking preventive measures is especially important, and your dentist can check for early signs of oral cancer." said Laura Murcko, DMD, spokesperson for the AGD.