Doctors are finding an increased incidence of throat and tongue cancers that are HPV related. The more common type of throat cancer occurs in those exposed to cigarette smoking and alcohol. The HPV related cancers are more often found in younger men and less often women, middle-aged, who can present with an enlarged lymph node in the neck, or discomfort in the throat that does not resolve. The tonsils seem to be vulnerable. The good news is that this type of throat cancer is more responsive to treatment.
Although there is no screening test for HPV of the throat, a careful exam done at the time of a dental visit is very important. If there is an enlarged lymph node or mass in the neck or mouth, or persistent discomfort in the throat, an exam or additional tests, can be done that can indicate if an HPV related cancer is present.
Less then 50% of children receive the HPV vaccine, which is usually given to boys and girls at the age of 12. It is believed that many cases of HPV related cancer can be avoided if the vaccine is more widely utilized.