HPV stands for the “human papilloma virus”. HPV is one of the most common virus groups in the world today affecting the skin and mucosal areas of the body. Over 120 different types/ versions of HPV have been identified, and different types are known to affect different parts of the body. Most HPV’s of this type are very common, harmless, non cancerous, and easily treated.
Two types of genital tract HPV in particular, HPV16 and 18, are known to cause the vast majority of cervical cancers, and new studies show that the type HPV16 is also linked to oral cancer as well. In the oral environment HPV16 manifests itself primarily in the posterior regions, such as the base of the tongue, the back of the throat, the tonsils and tonsillar pillars. These cancer causing versions of HPV are also responsible for other squamous cell carcinomas.
It has now been established that the path that brings people to oral cancer contains at least two distinct etiologies; one through tobacco and alcohol, and another through the HPV16 virus. The HPV positive group is the fastest growing segment of the oral cancer population.