By Dr. Monish De, Oncology,
Virus is a kind of infectious disease that can be transmitted sexually. According to research studies, there are more than 40 subtypes of sexually transmitted HPV affecting the throat, mouth and genitals.
HPV-16, one such subtype of oral HPV causes throat cancer. The usual symptoms of such condition includes swelling of the lymph nodes, swollen tongue, earache, hoarseness, numbness inside the mouth, lumps around the neck or inside the mouth, discharge of blood while coughing, white or red patches on the tonsils etc.
Now that we’ve discussed about the condition and symptoms of such throat cancer, let’s get to the lesser known facts. Here are 4 things you should know about HPV related throat cancer-
1. Strikes you at a younger age-
In contrast to oropharyngeal cancer which typically occurs in people aged between 60 and 80 years, HPV related oropharyngeal cancer is observed much earlier, usually between the ages of 40 and 70. While non-HPV- related oropharyngeal cancer usually affects people having a history of alcohol and tobacco practice, HPV associated throat cancer can develop among people having no such background.
2. It is very common-
HPV related throat cancer is a very common disease since it is transmitted through open-mouth kissing and oral sex. The more number of sexual partners you have, the more likely you are to catch the infection. Moreover, having sexual intercourse with someone who has had more than one sexual partner, escalates the risk of cancer.
3. More common in men-
Throat cancer caused by HPV infection is more common in men than in women. The exact reason supporting the statement is not known; however, one possible reason could be that men have a less healthy immune response than women, and therefore are prone to such infections.
4. HPV Vaccine can help reduce the cancer rate-
Three doses of Gardasil 9 vaccine, preferably given by the age of 13, can help reduce the rate of HPV related throat cancer. It effectively prevents HPV infection, and therefore lowers the risk of throat cancer.
HPV related throat cancer can also be prevented by adopting safe-sex practices such as use of contraceptives and dental dams. In adverse cases where the cancer has reached an advanced stage, the standard treatment will involve chemotherapy, radiotherapy or a surgery. People usually respond well to such treatment procedures, with a survival rate of 85-90%.