Newly gathered data suggests that the number of human papillomaviruses or HPV caused oral cancer has risen significantly over the past decade. In a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, it was found out that there has been a 50 percent increase in the incidence of HPV related oral cancer between the years 2000 and 2012.
The same study showed that almost three-fourths of all oropharyngeal cancers or oral cancers are now caused by the infection of HPV virus.
“It’s a snapshot of looking at the disease burden and the time trend to see how the speed of the increase of this disease (is changing).” said co-author Sophie Huang. Huang is a research radiation therapist from the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto.
The data was gathered from various cancer centers around Canada such as the ones in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Nova Scotia. All in all, data from 3,643 patients aged 18 and above were collated to come up with the conclusion.
“In 2000, the proportion of throat cancer caused by HPV was estimated at 47 per cent,” added Huang. “But in 2012, the proportion became 74 per cent showing about a 50 per cent increase.”
In 2012 alone, 1,335 individuals were reported by the Canadian Cancer Society to have suffered from HPV-related oral cancer. Of this number, 372 succumbed to their disease.
Human papillomavirus is considered to be the most prominent sexually transmitted disease (STD) worldwide. Most of the time, its infection and symptoms are not able to mature to be of any significant concern. However, there are instances that the infection can lead to various cancers in both males and females.
Oral sex has been blamed to be the most common route of transmission of the HPV virus to the mouth. Huang also noted that 85 percent of patients suffering from HPV-related oral cancer are men.
There is no known reason yet on why this is the case. However, it has been shown that females are less in danger of the HPV virus than men.
“The research does suggest that the female immune system seems to respond differently to HPV infections in the mouth and throat than the male immune system,” Says Leah Smith, an epidemiologist in the Canadian Cancer Society.
“In females for example, oral HPV infections seem to occur less often and clear more quickly than they do in males, and it’s the persistence of an infection in the mouth and throat that can ultimately lead to cancer,” she added.
“The increase of HPV-related cancer is real, and it’s striking that there’s no sign of a slowdown.”
If you exhibit any signs and symptoms of oral cancer, immediately proceed to your doctor to get a consultation on the steps that you should take.