In the last two decades mouth cancer has risen by 50%, which is accredited to the increase in the spread of HPV (human papilloma virus). HPV is already responsible for around 80% of all cervical cancer cases, which has prompted the new vaccine that is administered as young as 12 to females to prevent infection later in life by the disease.
The study claims that the reason that mouth cancer may be on the rise is because HPV is transmitted via oral sex. Consideration should thus be given to extending the vaccination program against HPV to include boys as well as girls.
Lead author of the study from the Coventry University Hospital, Hisham Mehanna, stated that HPV related mouth cancer is a new disease in terms of other cancers that are caused in the mouth.
For the most part, throat and mouth cancers are associated with excessive drinking and smoking and usually only affect older people out of which a third usually die within two years.
On the other hand, mouth cancers caused by HPV have a larger survival rate with about 80% of those diagnosed still living two years later dependent on which stage the cancer was in when discovered.
The type of cancer caused by HPV is oropharyngeal, which is a tumour that develops near the rear of the mouth at the connection with the throat.
The research found that those who had a past of six or more different sexual partners had a 25% higher risk of developing cancer in their mouth.