A recent study published in the Lancet has suggested that smokers and single men are more likely to contract oral Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) than healthy men in relationships. It also claims that newly acquired oral HPV infections are rare in healthy men, and when contracted are likely to no longer suffer any symptoms within a year.

The research, from the National Cancer Institute for Mexico and Brazil, used mouthwash samples to evaluate and find patterns for the acquisition and persistence of oral HPV. The first year of the study – which is part of the HIM Study – witnessed nearly 4.5% of the men acquiring oral HPV; less than 2% had a cancer-causing type and less than 1% had HPV16.

HPV is already linked to several cancers, such as cervical, anal and genital cancers, however recently it has been found to be a major cause of oropharyngeal cancer. Oropharyngeal cancer forms in tissues of the oropharynx – the middle part of the throat which includes the soft palate, base of the throat and the tonsils. Whilst HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer is rare, rates have been rapidly increasing especially among men.

The lead author of the study, Christine M. Pierce Campbell, Ph.D., M.P.H., said: “Some types of HPV, such as HPV16, are known to cause cancer at multiple places in the body, including the oral cavity.”

“We know that HPV infection is associated with oropharyngeal cancer, but we don’t know how the virus progresses from initial infection to cancer in the oral cavity. One aspect of the HIM Study is to gather data to help us understand the natural history of these infections.”

Better2Know offers HPV Testing for women and men who have an area they want swabbing. Better2Know also offers the HPV vaccine Gardasil, which protects against types 6, 11, 16 and 18. Call the booking team on the number listed above if you would like to know how you can get tested or protected.

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