The human papillomavirus (HPV) affects almost 15 million Americans according to A January 2012 JAMA study. The study, which used oral exfoliated cell samples from over 5000 men and women, found that men had a higher rate of HPV infection than women. The men had a 10% rate compared to 4% for women. Several strains of the incurable virus has been linked to some cancers, and those infected with HPV 16 strain are 14 times more likely to develop oral cancers than those without the HPV infection.
Despite the prevalence of HPV in the American population, the occurrence of cancer as a result of the virus is very low. The study also indicated that most oral HPV infections are sexually transmitted.
The authors acknowledged that more studies are necessary in order to know whether or not recent HPV vaccines are effective in preventing oral HPV infections.
There are now simple salivary tests on the market that will allow for east diagnosis of the infection and help in treatment. At out office, which is in the Montclair area, we do oral cancer screenings on all patients. We will be adding the HPV test in the near future.