What is HPV? What is HPV throat cancer? Learn all about HPV.

By Pamela Tom | HPVANDME Founder 

Over the past year, we’ve learned a lot of lessons about health and about taking care of ourselves and others. We learned about the importance of living our best lives. Because it may not be there tomorrow. This month’s blog answers six important questions about understanding HPV. Questions such as: What is HPV? What is HPV throat cancer? Learn all about HPV here. We hope that you will read, learn more from your doctor, and share this primer with those whom you care about. HPV affects everyone.


What is HPV?

HPV stands for the human papillomavirus. It’s not one virus but hundreds. There are 40 types of HPV that can be contracted from sexual contact. Some types are more dangerous than others. For example, doctors consider HPV types 6 and 11 to be low risk causing 90 percent of genital wart cases, according to Yale Medicine. In contrast, HPV types 16 and 18 cause 70 percent of cervical cancers. And HPV type 16 causes 95 percent of all oropharyngeal cancers (HPV-related). Furthermore, HPV-16 can harbor in the body for decades and develop into cancer decades later. That’s how a middle aged man receives a HPV-related throat cancer diagnosis decades after he first became infected.

Who Gets HPV?

According to the CDC, 79 million Americans are currently infected with HPV. 14 million people, including teens, become newly infected every year. HPV is more common than herpes and HIV.  Just about anyone can get HPV. Worldwide, HPV is also the most common STI and causes 90 percent of cervical cancers. 

How Do You Become Infected?

HPV primarily spreads through sexual activity, including vaginal, anal, and oral sex. Genital contact without sex may also spread infection. 

How Does HPV Cause Cancer?

HPV causes 36-thousand cases of cancer every year. In men and women. HPV-related cancers include oropharyngeal, cervical, anal, vaginal, vulvar, and penile cancer. Most HPV infections clear in two years, thanks to the human immune system. However, in some cases, the infection persists, often unknowingly. When infected cells continue to grow, they can become pre-cancerous and eventually, cancerous. Persistent infection—when a person clears the virus but is re-infected—also increases the risk of HPV cancer. 

How Do I Prevent HPV Infection?

The CDC recommends the HPV vaccine for boys and girls at age 11-12, and as early as age 9. Why so young? Because the HPV vaccine is most effective before exposure to the virus. The CDC’s Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) also recommends HPV vaccination for people up to age 26 if they have not been fully vaccinated. In certain cases, adults between 27 and 45 years old may also benefit from vaccination. The HPV vaccine is safe. The HPV vaccine prevents six types of cancer. Studies find HPV vaccination does not influence children’s sexual behavior. Because we don’t know who will clear the infection and who will not, widespread vaccination is the best method for cancer prevention.

How Do I Get Screened for HPV

The Pap Smear test detects the presence of HPV in the cervix. However, there is no equivalent screening test for men in the oral cavity (base of tongue or throat, soft palate, tonsils, tongue). That’s why it’s so important to understand the early symptoms of HPV oropharyngeal cancer.


What is HPV? What is HPV throat cancer?

Learn all about HPV at hpvandme.org and on our YouTube Channel.