According to a new study released from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Oropharyngeal Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) is now the most common HPV-associated cancer in the United States. This report looked at the incidence of HPV associated cancers from 1999-2015, and found that while the cervical cancer incidence is decreasing (in part because of regular cancer screening), oropharyngeal SCC cancer rates have increased each year among both men and women. HPV causes three-quarters of all oral cancers. It is now considered an epidemic.

These findings emphasize the importance of seeing your dentist regularly and ensuring that an oral cancer screening exam is done at each check up appointment. Signs of this type of cancer can be found at the base of the tongue, on the soft palate/uvula, around the tonsils or at the back of the throat. An early oral cancer diagnosis can mean the difference between life and death.

The HPV vaccine protects against the nine most dangerous strains of HPV. It acts as a preventative measure to lower the risk of oral cancers, as well as cervical cancers in women and penile cancers in men. Both boys and girls should receive the HPV vaccine in Grade 6 in Alberta.  If your child has missed their vaccine, or if you are wondering if you may benefit from the vaccine as well, we recommend talking to your family doctor about receiving it.

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