Latest News On Oral Cancer

The understanding of what causes cancer has changed.  We know that some cancers are genetic, while others are caused by exposure to radiation or certain chemicals.  In the last few years, we have learned that some viruses attack normal cells to turn them into cancer cells.  Until recently, the  most common types of oral cancer were caused by exposure to tobacco products and alcohol.  As there are fewer people smoking, this cause has declined.  But in its place, we are now seeing an increase in virus caused oral cancer.  The  most common virus that causes oral cancer is HPV – human papillomavirus.  This virus has received a lot of press as the most common STD in the US,  responsible for almost all cervical cancer in women, and other cancers in both women and men.  We really don’t know how it is transmitted.   Recent data from the National Cancer Institute reports that HPV is responsible for more than half of all mouth and throat cancers.  We have seen 4 cases in our office (all people over 40) in the last 2 years.  There is a vaccine available, suggested for both boys and girls in their teens, and must be administered before age 25.  Do you have any lumps or bumps developing in your mouth or neck, or difficulty swallowing, or has your voice changed?  Please let us know at your next appointment.


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PO Box 7007
Missoula, MT 59807