- HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases. Although data shows HPV spreading rate is not that high in Tanzania, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t keep this fact in our minds that a number of people will be infected at some point during their lives and this is all due to practise of oral sex. HPV usually has no symptoms, those who are infected may not know they have the virus.
Although tobacco use and heavy drinking are the main risk factors for oral cancer, in recent years a growing numbers of cases have been linked to infection with the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).
HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases. Although data shows HPV spreading rate is not that high in Tanzania, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t keep this fact in our minds that a number of people will be infected at some point during their lives and this is all due to practise of oral sex. HPV usually has no symptoms, those who are infected may not know they have the virus.
What’s the connection?
HPV is passed on during sexual activity, through skin-to-skin contact involving the mouth, vagina, vulva (the external female genitalia), penis, anus, or fingers.
When HPV is transmitted during oral sex, it can lead to cancers in the oral cavity (inside the mouth) or the oropharynx, which include the base of the tongue, the soft area just behind the roof of the mouth, and the tonsils. Your odds of getting HPV are higher if you smoke, most likely due to the effects of smoking on the immune system.
In most cases, HPV clears up on its own, the same way in which a common cold goes away. But in some people, HPV infection can hang on for years, thriving in the warm, moist mucosal tissue found in places such as genital areas, the mouth and the throat.
If it doesn’t clear up on its own, the virus can change the normal cell and cause what we call dysplasia or pre-cancer. Over time, that dysplasia, can chance into cancer.
The period from infection to the development of cancer can take as long as 30 to 40 years. Most people develop oral cancer around the age of 50.
So young people here is my humble advice, you may entertain that oral cancer-culture today, but it may backfire you at around 50s. Stop oral sex now!
Who is at risk?
Smoking and practising oral sex are the main risk factors. However, men are more likely at risk to get oral cancer than women, you know why? Just simple! Due to anatomical differences.
Like any type of cancer, early detection is very important. When oral cancer is detected early, the chance of a cure is very good. When it has spread, or metastasized, it’s more difficult. If you have any sypmtoms that do not go away after few weeks, see your doctor promptly.
Symptoms of oral cancer can vary, depending on where the cancer is located. It’s important to remember that these symptoms, do not necessarly mean you have cancer; they can be due to other medical conditions. See your doctor if you experience symptoms like:
• A mouth sore that bleeds or doesn’t heal
• Red or white patches inside your mouth or the back of your throat
• A lump or swelling in the mouth or neck
•A sore throat, or horseness that won’t go away
• Pain in your ears, neck or throat
• Troule chewing or swallowing, or pain in the jaws/tongue