April is National Oral Cancer month. In regard to the mouth Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) has been on the rise and is the most common sexually transmitted disease. Many people have heard of HPV but are not exactly sure what it is. Papillomas are very similar to warts. The virus gets into a skin cell and uses the cell’s mechanisms for reproduction. The cell reproduces so rapidly that the cluster of new cells develop into a bump or papilloma or wart.
HPV is most often acquired via oral sex though other ways are possible. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 10% of all men and 3.6% of women have this virus in their oral cavities. There are more than 100 forms of HPV and most disappear within a year or two. There are a few which are particularly aggressive and will develop into a cancer which can grow even more rapidly and spread to other parts of the body. These strains of HPV can be quite deadly. So if you are actively dating you might consider getting a vaccine against HPV. The vaccine is far more effective in preventing the infection than it is in curing it. Ask your physician about it at your next checkup.