HPV – human papillomavirus – is a common sexually-transmitted infection. HPV infection is the leading cause of cervical cancer in women, and is now being recognized as a major cause of oral cancer. HPV is responsible for 60–70 percent of cancers of the throat, tonsils and tongue.
Who Is At Risk
HPV infection is the most common type of sexually-transmitted infection, so it can affect almost anyone who engages in oral or genital sex. But recently the number of HPV-related oral cancers in men has risen sharply. Men can acquire HPV infection from oral sex, and their immune systems are less effective at fighting HPV than women's.
Things that increase your risk of HPV
- Having oral sex, especially with many partners
- Frequent consumption of alcohol
- Regular checkups: Get yearly checkups from a doctor or dentist that include an examination for oral cancer. The exam is brief and easy.
- Sexual hygiene: Fewer sexual partners, staying faithful to one partner at a time, and using a condom when you have sex can all help lower your chances being infected by HPV.
- Vaccination: Current vaccines against types of HPV that cause cervical, anal and other cancers may also help against strains of HPV that cause oral cancer.