Did you know that being HPV-positive can cause throat cancer? However, knowing the symptoms and how you can protect yourself will help you deal with HPV throat cancer much better. So keep reading to know more.
A large percentage of throat cancer around the world is attributed to HPV. This has become one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases and has also passed cervical cancer to become the most common form of cancer in the world. Not everyone who is infected with HPV ends up getting cancer.
Usually, the HPV infection goes away on its own. However, certain severe viruses can reach your throat and lead to cancer. HPV can be linked to other forms of cancer like anal, cervical, or penile cancer too. Keep reading to get more awareness on HPV throat cancer.
What is HPV?
Human Papillomavirus is a group of viruses that spread through vaginal, oral, or anal sex and can be high or low-risk viruses. The low-risk ones usually don't cause any big issues except warts around the mouth, anus, or throat. However, high-risk HPVs are risky and can cause cancer, too.
Especially HPV 18 and 16 lead to the most
The HPV infection passes easily and can spread through intimate contact between sexual partners. Such as vaginal sex, penile sex, or even oral sex, and chances of infection can be reduced with the use of protection like using condoms.
What are the Symptoms of HPV Throat Cancer?
The worst part about getting an HPV infection is that the virus doesn't show any symptoms unless you develop cancer. However, looking out for certain subtle symptoms can be of help. Here are some of the oral HPV symptoms:
- A feeling of having a lump on the back of your throat or neck.
- A persistent sore throat or swollen tonsils that don't go away.
- Bleeding from the mouth or blood in saliva.
- Having difficulty eating or drinking foods with citrus in them.
- An ear or jaw pain or trouble with moving your tongue.
- Having trouble eating with the mouth fully open or struggling with swallowing.
- Having excessive weight loss without any reason.
- Noticing a white or red patch in your tonsils.
Since most of these symptoms are similar to symptoms of a common sore throat, the best way to identify them is that you should always get your symptoms checked if they continue for more than two weeks. Also, if you notice symptoms only on one side of your throat, it can be a cause for concern.
What are the Causes of HPV Throat Cancer?
Though some believe that the cause behind HPV mouth cancer is oral sex, the exact reason has still not been found. Research also shows that having multiple sexual partners increases the risk of cancer. However, more research is needed to understand the reasoning and link between HPV and throat cancer better. The symptoms of HPV throat cancer are primarily undetectable, and they can resurface as cancer years after the HPV virus enters our body, too. Because of these reasons, it becomes tougher to detect HPV throat cancer.
What is the Diagnosis of HPV Throat Cancer?
There isn't any test that can help determine HPV throat cancer in its early stages. A routine exam may help the doctor notice some symptoms of the tumor. Your doctor can also detect the signs while having a dental appointment. The doctor can ask you for an oral cancer screening to understand your risk of developing the disease. The oral screening involves a physical examination of your mouth using a small camera. The screening helps in getting a look at the back of your thoughts and also your vocal cords.
What are the Treatment Options for HPV Throat Cancer?
There are several options for treatment if you happen to get throat cancer, which include chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, and more. Depending on your case, your doctor shall advise you about suitable treatment options. Let's look at some of the common HPV in throat treatment options:
The objective of chemotherapy is to kill the remaining tumor cells in your body, and it's used as a first-line treatment for cancer patients. Doctors use chemotherapy in combination with radiation therapy for people with advanced levels of throat cancer.
This treatment is a combination of radiation and chemotherapy and is used for patients to avoid surgery and preserve their voice box or larynx. Some patients don't prefer surgery, or they might not be healthy enough for surgery. In such cases, the best option for them is chemoradiation.
For early-stage HPV throat cancer, doctors do consider surgery. However, for infections in the advanced stages, doctors can combine surgery with other treatments like chemotherapy or radiation. These treatments are useful in shrinking the tumor before surgery, and doctors might also remove the nearby lymph nodes to check for the presence of cancer cells.
Doctors use radiation therapy on cancer patients as a common treatment for HPV throat cancer. This therapy is particularly useful if you're dealing with throat cancer, which is recurrent or even in the early stages of the cancer.
Since the cancer cells have a protein called EFGR in them, using EFGR inhibitor drugs can help target the specific protein. Doctors use this protein in combination with radiation therapy for the early stages of throat cancer. Doctors also use targeted therapy drugs to treat certain advanced levels of cancer in patients.
There are drugs designed to help our body's immune system and kill tumor cells, too. This is usually used when the throat cancer isn't responding to the first line of treatments.
How Fast Does HPV Throat Cancer Spread?
If you're wondering how long it takes for the HPV throat cancer symptoms in females and males to cause throat cancer, then you must know that it could take years for that to happen. It could even take months for the symptoms to start showing up in your body. Some researchers even suggest that it could take up to 30 years for the symptoms of HPV-related throat cancer to show.
Now that we have a detailed view of HPV throat cancer, it helps us gain a deeper insight into the disease. We should not take symptoms lightly and should be more aware of our health and hygiene. So, if you are reading this and feel like you could be showing symptoms of HPV-related throat cancer, then don't hesitate to get the diagnosis done today. If topics on women's care, lifestyle blogs, female empowerment, and more catch your attention, head to The Voice of Woman blogs today!
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