There has been a step rise in HPV-linked cases of Oropharyngeal cancer and this is attributed to changing oral sex practices.

Throat or Mouth Cancer is a layman terminology for Oropharyngeal cancer. The symptoms of the disease can vary a great deal if the precipitating factor is the HPV or human papillomavirus. This was suggested in a small study.

Oropharyngeal cancer is the term used to refer cancer in the throat, soft palate, tonsils or the base of the tongue. One of the major causes of Oropharyngeal cancer is smoking. However certain strains of the HPV which causes genital and oral warts as well as anal warts have also been indicted as a precipitating factor of Oropharyngeal cancer. Genital and oral warts caused by HPV are one of the most common STD diseases in the US.

Oropharyngeal cancer cases have been relatively uncommon but there has been a steep surge in HPV-linked Oropharyngeal cancer cases particularly in white adults below 55 years. According to figures released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 8400 Americans are afflicted with HPV-related Oropharyngeal cancer.

Dr. Terry Day, senior researcher on the new study and a specialist in head and neck cancers at the Medical University of South Carolina, in Charleston said, “We’re seeing this in younger, healthy people who don’t smoke,”

Despite the rise in Oropharyngeal cancers, there has been scant research on the initial symptoms of HPV linked Oropharyngeal cancers.

Sr. Terry Day and his team pored through the records of 88 patients who were diagnosed with Oropharyngeal cancer. 71 patients were HPV positive cancer patients and the most common symptom which surfaced first was a lump in the throat.

50% of the patients had a lump in the neck as compared to 18 % of patients with HPV-negative cancer.

The patients who were HPV negative had a persistent sore throat and also faced difficulty in swallowing which was the first major symptom which has been reported by a majority of patients. Some patients with HPV linked cancer have these symptoms and 28 % had a stubborn sore throat and 10% had difficulty in swallowing.

The good news is that HPV positive cancers have a good prognosis while the HPV negative form of cancers is more aggressive and therefore the symptoms are more pronounced.

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