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Dr. Christopher Tzermias

Dermatologist – Venereologist

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Warts in the Oral Cavity

The outbreak of warts in the oral cavities is evident, while the experts are talking about the «new cancer of sex».

Learn more about the treatment of genital warts here

Although it was characterised as a rare phenomenon just a few decades ago since HPV strains prefer anogenital areas, its incidence is now characterised as soaring.

Nowadays there are many cases in which the virus has affected the oral cavity and may lead to the development of tumours in the oropharynx.

Human Papilloma Virus, HPV, is also responsible for the development of common warts on various areas of the body. Scientists have classified more than 80 strains of the virus, half of which are responsible for the manifestation of anogenital warts both in men and in women.

However, until recently, genital warts were rarely detected within the oral cavity, while women were more concerned about the oncogenic strains of virus, which may lead to the development of cervical cancer.

Today men are also facing a risk , as a result of the changes of sexual contacts during the last decade.

All recent scientific studies demonstrate the risk of HPV that people enjoying oral sex or people in homosexual relationships are facing.

Professor Ted Teknos said recently at the University of Ohio that «HPV has replaced alcohol and smoking as the leading cause of oropharyngeal cancer».

In particular, a research study that was published in the Journal “New England Journal of Medicine” showed that exposure to the dangerous HPV strain 16 – that has been linked to cervical cancer – creates a 32-fold increase of the possibilities of developing oropharyngeal cancer.

To the contrary, the other risk factors mentioned above – smoking and alcohol consumption history – were found to lead to a 3-fold and 2.5-fold increase, respectively.

A quite worrying fact is that, since the virus is transmitted through sexual contact or even through prolonged kissing, cancer cases occur most often in young healthy people 30 – 34 years old, although older people may be infected, too.

Nevertheless, it should be noted that papilloma is the most common lesion caused by HPV in the oral cavity. It is a benign lesion often related to strains 6 and 11, which usually appears in the form of a lump with the colour of the normal mucosa of the oral cavity. It usually appears on the inner side of the upper and lower lip, the tongue as well as on the soft palate.

The treatment of this lesion is achieved through the method of sublimation, painlessly, noninvasively, without incision and stitches, using an ultrapulse CO2 laser.

Studies

Researchers at the University of Ohio recently collected cell samples from the oral cavities of 5,500 people aged between 14 and 69 years old; the analysis showed that:

  • Men are facing higher risk of oral, tongue, pharynx and larynx cancer than women.
  • 10% of men were infected by HPV versus 3.6% of women only

A study on oropharyngeal cancer between 1984 and 2004 was published in the Times. According to the researchers:

  • While HPV was present in 16% of patients during the ‘80s, for patients diagnosed after 2000, HPV was found in 72% of them.

If this increase of HPV development in oropharyngeal cancers continues, it is estimated that in 2020 oropharyngeal cancers will be more than cervical cancers.

It is not clear yet why oropharyngeal cancers are more frequent in men than in women.

Researches

British researchers have pinpointed that:

  • The rates of cancers of the tonsils doubled in a decade (from mid-‘90s to mid-‘00s)
  • HPV being three times more likely to be the cause as compared to the other risk factors

Treatment

The treatment of this lesion is achieved through:

  • Surgical removal
  • The method of sublimation, painlessly, noninvasively, without incision and stitches, using an ultrapulse CO2 laser

About the author

Dr. Christopher Tzermias

Dermatologist – Venereologist

tzermias.gr

Specialised in England (Oxford, London) and in North America (New York, San Diego) in LASER Dermatology and pioneer in the application of advanced LASER in Greece. He established the first and very well equipped inpatient departments of LASER Dermatology in Greece, in the Athens Medical Centre at Marousi, Athens, St. Luke's Clinic at Panorama, Thessaloniki and in the Interbalkan Medical Centre of Thessaloniki. He was the Director of Invasive and LASER Dermatology of the Athens Medical Centre for 18 years, from 1996 to 2014.

Accessible by appointment in his clinics in Kolonaki - 49, Vas. Sofias str. (210 72 42 600) and Marousi - 71, Kifisias Ave. (210 61 00 900).

  • References
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I have genital warts. What should I do with my partner?

You should inform all people with whom you had sexual contact during the last eight months so that they are also examined by a dermatologist.