HPV Linked To Tonsil Cancer

Thursday, August 4, 2011 - 9:00am

Virus known to cause cervical cancer in women could pose danger to men as well.

A sexually transmitted disease that's a known risk for cervical cancer in women can trigger cancer in men as well.

"Most would predict that we are on the early end on an epidemic," warns Dr. David Cognetti.

He says he's seen an increase in tonsil cancer in men.

Dr. Cognetti blames HPV, the Human Pappiloma Virus, the most commonly sexually transmitted infection in the United States.

"A lot of the people who would be developing cancer over the next few decades have probably already been exposed," says. Dr. Cognetti.

HPV is most often linked to cervical cancer, but can also lead to cancer of the vagina, penis, anus and tonsils.

"For it to get to in the back of the throat to the tonsils, it is oral sex that increases the risk," Dr. Cognetti explains. "The good news is, that unlike the other head and neck cancers, those that are related specifically to the HPV virus tend to be much more curable."

Still, treatment requires surgery, plus weeks of chemotherapy and radiation.

Symptoms include a sore throat, a lump in the neck, difficulty swallowing, and the sensation that something is stuck in the throat.

The cancer can develop years after exposure.

Condoms reduce the risk of HPV.

So does reducing the risk of sexual partners.

The vaccine Gardisil is available to men and boys ages 9-26 and may offer protection, but doctors caution the vaccine is fairly new without long term results.

There is no test for HPV in the mouth or throat.

Anyone with symptoms should talk to their doctor right away.

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