HPV or the Human Papilloma Virus has been identified to be responsible for the development of cervical cancer. The virus, more than 200 different kinds of which have been identified, is quite widespread and is now considered to be the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States of America.
The thing to remember here is that most of these identified species are harmless and will produce infections that are subclinical in nature. Even in cases where they have a clinical presentation, approximately 70 percent of those will disappear on their own with no treatment whatsoever. In fact, the vast majority of the people that are infected with HPV will never even know that they had the infection ever.
However, the association of HPV with cervical and oral cancer means that doctors have to be vigilant for signs of infection. Dentists in particular have a role to play as oral lesions from HPV infection may be the first signs to appear in some cases.
Signs And Symptoms Of Oral HPV
1. Oral Warts
Warts may appear anywhere in the oral cavity or lips. There are a number of reasons why warts could appear in the mouth, however HPV is the most dangerous among these. It is not always possible to know just by the clinical presentation what caused these warts to appear, although it does not matter since the treatment is the same for all warts. People complain of soreness, redness, tingling sensation on appearance of the warts.
Warts can be treated in a number of different ways such as a surgical excision (most common), Carbon Dioxide lasers, cryotherapy, topical medicaments and use of interferons. They may also disappear on their own over an indefinite period of time.
2. Oral cancer
A lot of people view HPV lesions as precancerous conditions since they have been associated with a high percentage of squamous cell carcinoma cases. A squamous papilloma is found most commonly on the surface of the tongue, edge of the mouth or the mucosal surface of the lips. It will have a whitish projection and an almost cauliflower like growth.
This is a cancer that spreads quickly and the best course of treatment is to have it excised as soon as detected. The incidence of this cancer is much higher in people that are suffering of immunity debilitating diseases like HIV.
3. Heck’s Disease
Seen most commonly in children and people with compromised immunity, this is characterized by a smooth pebbly appearance of multiple rounded projections in the labial or buccal mucosa. It is considered to be a low risk presentation of HPV infection with little to no risk of metastasis and no treatment necessary.
While vaccines have been developed for some HPV infections associated with cervical cancer, the same has not been approved for prevention of oral cancer. The onus is still on early detection and removal, so if you have any doubt as to the nature of your infection then you should seek a professional opinion at the earliest.
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