Oropharyngeal Cancer: A Global Concern

November has been renamed Movember, in an attempt to raise awareness about cancer, especially cancers concerning men, who are at a much higher risk for developing deadly tumors than women. This is why men are encouraged to grow a moustache during November (hence the name Movember), in an effort to raise awareness of cancers. So it is that November, just passed a few days ago, has become cancer awareness month. I thought we would do our part as well, and dedicate an article to one of the fastest rising instances of cancer in the world, oropharyngeal cancer. This disease occurs in both men and women, and claims the lives of mostly young men, in their early thirties.


The Bad

Studies all over the world that deal with oropharyngeal cancer have sprung up like mushrooms the world over. Every cancer research facility on Earth is dealing with this type of carcinoma, and the more we find out about it, the worse it seems. It is linked with HPV, and the immune responses to HPV in the mouth can cause the tissues affected to become cancerous and to develop tumors. Plaque and other factors have been shown to trigger the self same immune response, causing the same problems. While scientists are trying to find ways to control the immune responses, there is little by the way of actual progress in this area.

The Good

The good news is that although we cannot prevent the immune responses that turn cells renegade and make them go cancerous, we can identify what triggers the immune responses, and limit those. Since plaque and HPV are the things that contribute to the formation of oropharyngeal cancers, we know that conversely a person whose mouth is clean and who has little plaque will get less stimulation, and thus is less likely to get oral cancer. We also know that people with no HPV viruses are much less likely to get this kind of cancer. We also know that oropharyngeal cancer is among the easiest to operate on, if found out early enough, with a really high recovery rate, and with few instances of metastasis. The problem is, the survival rate tumbles to 50% really soon, so finding out in time is very important. If you have HPV, go to regular oropharyngeal screenings, even if there are no lumps in the mouth. If you experience a sore that will not heal, or will not stop bleeding, and sudden appearance of lumps and growths in the mouth, go and see your dentist at once, especially if you smoke, drink alcohol or change your sexual partners frequently.

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