Learning that you have HPV is scary. Even though eighty percent of people who are sexually active contract some form of HPV, it is important that you be screened for HPV. Many strains of HPV are not dangerous, but several strains of HPV do cause cancer. One of the major concerns of HPV infection is oral cancer as a result of the infection. Oral cancer is very serious as it may disrupt the basic functioning of your life such as eating and talking. If you think you have the signs of oral cancer, you review some of the following common signs of oral cancer. Dr. Weston Spencer can check for these signs during your oral hygiene exam.[videoplay autoplay=”0″ videourl=’/sitevideos/AboutThePractice-HD.mp4′ cssclass=’center-video’]
What are the signs of HPV?
There are several subtle signs that indicate oral cancer from an HPV infection.
If you have an ulcer or sore that does not heal in a short period of time like two weeks. The sore or ulcer may present as red, whitish, or black. If you also have any discomfort with swallowing or chewing, this may indicate an abnormality. Swollen tonsils although seemingly benign can indicate HPV infection. Re-occurring sore throats are another sign that might indicate oral cancer from HPV. Many patients report a numb feeling in their mouth and around their lips. Persistent coughing could also be an indication. Difficulty swallowing or feeling like food is stuck in the throat is a very common sign of early oral cancer.
If you believe that you have any of these signs, you should contact Dr. Weston Spencer for a scheduled appointment. During this appointment he will examine your mouth and throat in order to look for signs of oral cancer.
How does HPV transmission work?
HPV transmission is primarily sexually transmitted. This means that sexual activity where bodily fluids are exchanged increase the chance of transmitting and begin infected with HPV. Sexual activities such as oral sex, sexual intercourse, and anal intercourse are all activities that increase the risk of HPV transmission. If left undiagnosed and untreated, HPV can lead to oral cancer which is far more difficult to treat. The best way to prevent HPV is to have your sexual partner tested for HPV before beginning sexual relations and when having sexual relations, using a condom to prevent transmission from bodily fluids.
How does this affect my mouth and gums?
Oral cancer affects the mouth and gums in many ways. Oral cancer can lead to abnormal growths that hinder eating and speaking. It also can spread to other parts of the body which spreads the cancer and makes treatment far more difficult. If the cancer continues to grow, parts of the mouth or tongue or gums may necessitate surgical removal to contain the cancerous growth. This removal often makes eating and talking very difficult and requires physical therapy to learn how to eat and speak normally again.
The best step to preventing oral cancer is testing that looks for signs of oral cancer. During the testing your mouth, gums, and throat will be examined. Dr. Weston will look for any abnormal growths or spots that might indicate oral cancer. Based on his findings he may recommend further monitoring or treatment if you exhibit symptoms.
If you worry about whether you may have HPV or are in the early stages of cancer you should not wait. Cancer is very serious and requires immediate medical attention. Dr. Spencer can help ease your anxiety and check your mouth and throat for oral cancer. You can call his office at (858) 459-0077 or reach out online to schedule your screening at the La Jolla or Rancho Santa Fe offices.