HPV Causes A Growing Number Of Oral Cancers

Source: Liz Szabo / USA Today

USA TODAY asked cancer experts to explain HPV’s role in oral cancer and other diseases.

Q. What causes oral cancers — those of the tongue, tonsils and back of the throat?

A. Both smoking and HPV, the human papillomavirus, are major causes of oral cancer.

Douglas, 68, had previously blamed his cancer — detected at stage 4, the most advanced kind — on years of smoking and drinking. And while tobacco has long been a leading cause of head and neck cancers, HPV now causes far more cases, says Lori Wirth, director of head and neck oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Q. Why are doctors concerned about HPV-related cancer?

A. HPV causes cancer of the cervix, vagina, vulva, anus, penis and head and neck. It also causes genital warts.

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