Increase in malignant oral tumors due to HP viruses

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More and more oral tumors due to human papilloma viruses

According to medical experts, the number of patients with cancerous tumors in the mouth caused by sexually transmitted viruses is increasing. A study by Norwegian scientists showed an increase of four to five percent per year. According to experts, this is due to an increase in oral sex. As reported by the German Society for Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery (DGHNO KHC) at this year's 83rd Annual Meeting in Mainz, around 650,000 people worldwide are newly diagnosed with a malignant head and neck tumor every year . In Germany, tumors in the head and neck area are among the fourth most common cancers in men.

Increase in HPV-related cancer cases According to society, more than 18,000 people develop head and neck tumors in Germany every year. Cancer is the fourth most common cancer among men, as the German Cancer Society reports. According to this, around 50 out of 100,000 German citizens develop cancer in the mouth or throat. Tumors in the oral cavity, larynx or throat already lead cancer statistics for male-dominated cancers. In addition to smoking, especially in combination with alcohol, so-called human papillomaviruses (HPV), predominantly of HPV type 16, can also be responsible for cancer tumors in the mouth and throat area. Different studies had examined why non-smokers also suffer from the special forms of cancer. Viral HPV infection was found in those who had oral, throat or tonsil cancer. Researchers believe that viruses are increasingly responsible for carcinomas in humans.

Increase due to the increase in oral sexual practices
The scientists explain the clusters by the increase in sexual practices in the oral field. The study from Norway was unable to determine any differences in sexual orientation. "Whether heterosexual or homosexual, women or men, everyone can be a carrier," as stated in a statement. "HPV probably triggers every second cancer of the oral pharynx and every fourth tumor of the oral cavity," explained the ear, nose and throat doctor Prof. Jens Klußmann in Mainz, director of the clinic for ENT medicine at the University Hospital in Gießen and Marburg.

HPV responsible for different types of cancer
HP viruses can trigger various types of cancer. The viruses are primarily transmitted sexually. It is only known to the public that there is a context between the HP virus and cervical cancer in women. However, new studies indicate that the viruses can also be responsible for head and neck cancer. According to Klußmann, the data situation is “not yet certain”, but there are indications that sexual risk factors may play a role. During the research work, it also became apparent that, in contrast to the non-infected cancer patients, HPV-infected people changed sex partners much more frequently and, according to their own statements, also engaged in oral sex more often.

Hoarseness is a first warning signal
A first warning sign of head and neck tumors can be constant hoarseness. If the hoarse voice persists for more than three weeks, those affected should consult an ear, nose and throat doctor so that he can research possible causes. "The earlier the head and neck carcinomas are discovered and treated accordingly, the greater the chances of a cure," said the experts in the communication.

HPV patients with cancer average ten years younger
According to the doctor, patients suffering from an HPV-associated cancer tumor were on average ten years younger than patients without a virus infection. A study published in the US medical journal, which showed that 10 percent of men and around four percent of women in the United States are already infected with an HP virus that can lead to malignant tumors, such as the German Cancer Society explained. In addition, the more the test subjects had different sexual partners, the higher the risk of infection.

In this context, the medical experts pointed out that a vaccination against the various HPV variants has existed for several years, which also covers the high-risk type 16. The costs of the vaccination are covered by the statutory health insurance for girls between the ages of 12 and 17. Doctors in the USA are also demanding a protective vaccination for boys because the viruses generally pose a cancer risk, as the latest studies have shown. However, the vaccination age should be between 12 and 13.

Interdisciplinary doctors and scientists are currently consulting on the topic of “HPV-related head and neck cancer” at this year's general meeting of the DGHNO KHC. The annual congress in Mainz begins on May 16 and ends on May 20. (sb)

Also read:
Thorough hygiene prevents penile cancer
Cervical cancer: new diagnostic test?
Weak immune defenses favor warts

Image: Gerd Altmann / (image is a tracing)

Author and source information

Video: HPV Infection and Head and Neck Cancer. Memorial Sloan Kettering


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