HPV: The new kissing disease?

Typically when you think of HPV, the Human Papilloma Virus, you think of a sexually transmitted disease that can cause cancer in women. But half of all men may have HPV and not even know it.

The adds came out last year for a vaccine for teenage girls that fights against HPV. It's the only cause of cervical cancer. But various strains of HPV also cause anal, penile, head and neck cancers.

Mount Sinai surgeon Eric Genden says that ten years ago, it was rare to see this type of cancer in people who didn't excessively smoke or drink.

Breaking it down by the numbers, if you're a drinker, you're at five times the risk of developing oral cancers. If you smoke, that goes up to 19 times the risk. If you do both, it's 53 times. But if you have the HPV virus, your risk of developing cancer is 243 times the risk.

Traditionally, patients would undergo a 12 hour surgery and two week hospital stay, followed by high dose radiation and chemo. Now a new transoral robotic surgery removes the tumor in less than two hours. However, even with improved treatments, Doctor Genden says the battle against HPV induced cancer is just beginning.

Doctor Genden says it could take 10 to 15 years before HPV turns into a tumor, and most people don't even know they have it until they're 40 or 50 years-old.

According to the centers for disease control, the best way you can be sure to get the most benefit from the recently approved FDA vaccination for men and women is to complete all three doses before you become sexually active.

The CSC says side effects in the majority of people with a reaction can include pain or swelling at the injection sight or fainting.

ALL ABOUT HPV: Approximately 20 million Americans are currently infected with HPV. Another 6 million people become newly infected each year. HPV is so common that at least 50% of sexually active men and women get it at some point in their lives. Genital human papillomavirus (also called HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). There are more than 40 HPV types that can infect the genital areas of males and females. These HPV types can also infect the mouth and throat. Most people who become infected with HPV do not even know they have it. In 90% of cases, the body's immune system clears HPV naturally within two years. But sometimes, certain types of HPV can cause genital warts in males and females as well as cervical cancer in females. (Source: CDC)

HPV & MEN: Much of the information about HPV virus (human papillomavirus) centers on women, since having the virus increases their risk of getting cervical cancer. But HPV virus in men can cause health problems, too. More than half of men who are sexually active in the U.S. will have HPV at some time in their life. Often, a man will clear the virus on his own, with no health problems. Researchers tested more than 1,100 healthy men from the three countries every six months for an average of two years. Their results indicated that the number of new infections among the men was high, and that risk stays with men throughout their lives. (Source: WebMD)

THE KISSING DISEASE? Oral sex and open-mouthed "French" kissing increases the risk of acquiring oral infections of HPV, a study shows. It is associated with gonorrheal pharyngitis - a sexually transmitted infection of the tonsils and back of the throat that immediately causes symptoms, and now is associated with mouth HPV infections that are silent yet may lead to oral cancer 10 to 20 years later. (Source: Study by the Ohio State University.)

NEW SURGERY TECHNOLOGY: A minimally invasive surgical approach developed by head and neck surgeons at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine has been cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Head and neck tumor treatments often involve a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Conventional surgery may require an almost ear-to-ear incision across the throat or splitting the jaw, resulting in speech and swallowing deficits for patients. In comparison, the minimally invasive TORS approach, which accesses the surgical site through the mouth, has been shown to improve long term swallowing function and reduce risk of infection while speeding up the recovery time. When compared to traditional surgeries, after their cancers have been removed successfully, patients have been able to begin swallowing on their own sooner and leave the hospital earlier. TORS outcomes are markedly improved when compared to standard chemotherapy, radiation or traditional open surgical approaches for oropharyngeal cancer. ( Source: University of Pennsylvania)

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