Virus Linked to Rise in Oral Cancer
A sexually transmitted virus is responsible for the recent rise in oral cancer, ABC News reports.
HPV, or human papillomavirus, best known for causing cervical cancer, can also cause cancer in the upper throat. And according to a new study, HPV-positive tumors now account for the majority of a type of oral cancer known as oropharyngeal cancer.
There are nearly 10,000 new cases of oropharyngeal cancer each year. Overall incidence of the disease has risen by 28 percent since 1988 while other types of head-and-neck cancer have been declining.
If the trend continues, oropharyngeal cancer will become the nation's main HPV-related cancer within the decade, researchers from Ohio State University and the National Cancer Institute reported Monday.
"There is an urgency to try to figure out how to prevent this," Dr. Amy Chen of the American Cancer Society and Emory University, who wasn't part of the new research, told ABC News.
It’s thought that the rise in oropharyngeal cancer cases is likely due to an increase in oral sex, but Dr. Gregory Masters of the American Society for Clinical Oncology cautions that oral sex may not necessarily be the only way the cancer is transmitted, ABC News reports.