HPV can cause cancer.ent

HPV can cause cancer

Human papillomavirus (HPV) -positive oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma has one of the most rapidly increasing incidences of any cancer in high-income countries.

HPV is a sexually transmitted infection that can infect the oropharynx (tonsils and back of throat), genitals and anus. This Virus spreads by skin-to-skin contact and oral sex may infect the mouth or throat. This is most commonly known as oral HPV.

Oral HPV often has no symptoms. Hence, this means that people don’t realize they’re infected and are less likely to take the steps necessary to limit the spread of the disease. 

Furthermore, this type of HPV can turn into oropharyngeal cancer, which is rare. Cancer cells form in the throat, the tongue, tonsils, and pharynx walls. These cells can develop from oral HPV.

Early symptoms of oropharyngeal cancer include:

  • trouble swallowing
  • constant earaches
  • coughing up blood
  • unexplained weight loss
  • enlarged lymph nodes
  • hoarseness

How’s oral HPV diagnosed?

No test is available to determine HPV of the mouth or oral cavity. Your Ear nose and throat doctor  may discover lesions through a screening, or you may notice the lesions first and make an appointment at EYiasis ENT department.

If you have lesions present, it is necessary to have a biopsy in order to determine if the lesions are cancerous. 


  • Nielsen KJ, Jakobsen KK, Jensen JS, Grønhøj C, Von Buchwald C. The Effect of Prophylactic HPV Vaccines on Oral and Oropharyngeal HPV Infection-A Systematic Review. Viruses. 2021 Jul 11;13(7):1339. 
  • Chattopadhyay A, Weatherspoon D, Pinto A. Human papillomavirus and oral cancer: a primer for dental public health professionals. Community Dent Health. 2015 Jun;32(2):117-28.
  • Ferris RL, Westra W. Oropharyngeal Carcinoma with a Special Focus on HPV-Related Squamous Cell Carcinoma. Annu Rev Pathol. 2023 Jan 24;18:515-535.