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HPV Vaccines May Decrease Chances of Oral Cancer

Chapter: Detecting and Preventing HPV

Recently, a vaccine was developed to treat patients with HPV against cervical cancer, and this could have an effect on women's oral health.


"More than 100 strains of HPV have been identified," says Dr. Closmann.  "They have been shown to cause other benign and malignant disorders, which now include those in the mouth.  Nearly 30,000 new cases of oral and oropharyngeal cancer are reported each year.  It's possible that oral and oropharyngeal cancers could be reduced if vaccination were more widespread; however, additional research is needed."


Additional research could result in a comprehensive test for dentists at patients' semiannual visits.  However, a dentist can perform a head and neck exam to detect early signs, despite the lack of a specific test. A possible connection between HPV and oral cancers, and the stronger link to oropharyngeal cancers, is even more of an indicator that patients should visit the dentist twice a year to identify irregularities early.


"Visiting the dentist on a regular basis is an important factor in the detection of any oral health complication," says Laura Murcko, DMD, spokesperson for the AGD. "Taking preventive measures is especially important, and your dentist can check for early signs of oral cancer."
Reviewed: January 2012