HPV Making Headlines: Linked to Epidemic of Oral Cancer
Guest Blog from Cillen Naples, RDH
Cillen has been in dentistry for over ten years. She graduated, as the Vice President of her class, from New York University College of Dentistry, and has worked with many extremely talented doctors before she came to join Dental Health and Wellness Boston. Cillen has specialized training in Periodontal Diagnosis, Laser Dentistry, and Non-Surgical Periodontal Therapy.
What is all the HPV buzz about? In the last few weeks, you may have noticed all over the media there are articles, news clips and shows discussing the Human Papilloma Virus. People Magazine is running full-page advertisements for the HPV vaccination called Guardisil.
Chronicle on Channel 5 ran a segment last week on the subject. Even 96.9 FM talk radio last night debated the subject with its listeners!
HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) is one of the most common virus groups in the world. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 20 million Americans are currently infected with HPV, and another 6 million people become newly infected each year. Often a harmless infection that the body eliminates itself, some strains of HPV have been known for decades to the medical community to cause cervical cancer in women. This sexually transmitted disease is now being linked to increased instances of other health issues and is known to be found in over 50% of newly diagnosed cases of oral cancer in both men and women.
A surge in HPV-related oral cancer has been noticed by researchers at Dana Farber Cancer Institute. “What you’re seeing here is a five-fold increase in the numbers that we would expect. So that, to me, is an epidemic,” said Dr. Marshall Posner of the Dana Faber Cancer Institute.
Dr. Jill B. Smith, DMD agrees and has been talking about HPV and educating her patients about these risks for years. Early prevention is critical, and Dental Health and Wellness Boston is your first line of defense in diagnosing oral cancer. As part of our Comprehensive Dental Diagnosis, every patient at our Boston dental office receives a thorough examination, checking their tongue, throat, lips and gum tissue all around the teeth. During routine cleaning appointments, our trained hygienists can recognize any irregularities, key to catching oral cancer early and starting treatment before it can progress to a more severe stage. Patients who have been exposed to HPV can be tested in our office with a simple salivary test from Oral DNA Labs which helps us better understand the risk for HPV-related oral cancer. A 30-second rinse with saline solution is all it takes to determine if the HPV infection is present.
Although oral exams and salivary tests can check for the signs of the virus in the office, it’s important for patients to pay attention to their bodies between appointments. Visit us if you have any bleeding in the mouth, sores that don’t heal or discolored patches. A lingering sore throat, change in your voice, lumps on the neck or swollen glands that don’t go away are sure signs to get checked by your dentist or physician.