Mississippi State Department of Health

HPV Infection and Oral Cancer


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

Oral cancers caused by HPV are significantly higher in men than women.

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

Warning Signs and Symptoms

Often there is no way to tell that you are infected with HPV. Infection may not cause any symptoms at all, or may cause simple mouth sores that resemble other forms of infection.

Because HPV infection can lead to oral cancer, be on the watch for these symptoms, and alert your physician or dentist if you experience them.

Mouth and throat cancer symptoms


Detecting the signs of possible oral cancer early is important. You can perform your own monthly check for oral cancer in just a few minutes at home. See your dentist or oral health professional if you notice anything unusual.

Protecting Yourself

Learn More

Links referenced on this page
How to Perform an Oral Cancer Self-Exam    https://www.aaoms.org/docs/media/oral_cancer/oral_cancer_self_exam.pdf
HPV Vaccination and Cancer Prevention    https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/hpv/index.html
HPV and Oral Cancer    https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/hpv/basic_info/hpv_oropharyngeal.htm
Oral Sex and Sexually-Transmitted Diseases    https://www.cdc.gov/std/healthcomm/STDFact-STDRiskAndOralSex.htm

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