Reducing Risk of HPV-Related Oral Cancers

Last Modified: March 22, 2012

Question

How can you reduce the risk of HPV related oral cancers?

Answer

Carolyn Vachani, RN, MSN, AOCN, OncoLink Nurse Educator, responds:

That is a great question - you cannot protect yourself 100% but this previous answer talks about prevention using dental dams.

Answer

Gloria DiLullo, MSN, CRNP, OncoLink Content Specialist, adds:

While many more people are aware that the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is the cause of cervical cancer in women due to the recent HPV vaccine, many are not aware that HPV is a cause of cancers of the vagina, vulva, penis, anus, and oral cavity (most often the tongue, tonsils, uvula, or oral cavity) in men and women. While HPV is referred to as a sexually transmitted disease, you do not need to have intercourse to contract HPV or spread it to your partner. Although experts do not know all the ways HPV is spread, we do know it can be passed on during vaginal or anal penetration, oral sex (with either men or women), genital skin-to-skin sexual contact, or genital touching (masturbation). While condom use may decrease areas that are exposed, it cannot prevent exposure completely.

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series. View the entire Cancer Risk & Prevention Webchat transcript.

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