Symptoms of mouth and throat cancer

Cancer of the mouth and throat can occur in two ways. One embodiment is associated with human papilloma virus (HPV) and the other not.

The number of cases that are associated with the virus has increased significantly over the past 10 years. Before 2000, four out of 10 cases were associated with the virus, but from 2009, seven out of 10 cases show the virus in the cancerous tissue.

HPV has found the way to the mouth and throat

Cases of mouth and throat cancer associated with HPV are most common in white men, nonsmokers, and under 55, while cases not associated with the virus are more common in white men, smokers and inveterate makers, and over 55 years. Of the two types of cancer modalities, only that associated with the virus is increased in number.

Several researchers have indicated that the increase in the number of cases associated with HPV could be partly explained by the increase in oral sex in the affected population.

This practice allows the virus, commonly associated with the external sexual organs, contact with the mouth and throat, infecting these organs, and promote cancer development.


HPV is a common virus in the adult population. Usually the person does not know who has the virus and the body removes it without drugs.

The virus exists in at least 130 varieties of which only two, HPV 16 and HPV 18, calls have been associated with cancer. For reasons that are still unclear, these strains of the virus are more difficult to remove from the body than others. By persisting infection and other changes occur in the same infected cells the result can be cancer.

HPV is well known for its strong association with cervical cancer. Seven of 10 cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV 16 and HPV virus 18. But this virus has also been found in tissues of vulvar cancer, anus and other genital organs in women.

Men are also affected by this virus, which is associated with cancer of the penis, anus, other genital organs, and the subject of this article, mouth and throat.

The good news is that there are a couple of vaccines which can prevent infection with HPV 16 and HPV 18 varieties, and thus prevent the development of cancer associated with them.

Symptoms of mouth and throat cancer

In view of the mouth and throat cancer is increasing in incidence (number of new cases per year) is important to know what symptoms can alert their presence are.

The most common symptoms include

A group of researchers led by Dr. Terry A. Day of the Medical University of South Carolina studied these symptoms more closely and seems to have found differences between cancer associated with the virus and that is not associated with HPV.

Although the number of patients studied is small (88), researchers found significant differences that warrant continuing this study with more patients.

The researchers found the following differences

These symptoms can also be caused by factors other than cancer. For example, the sore throat can be caused by a treatable infection with antibiotics. But it is not possible to know the cause until the doctor do the necessary tests for diagnosis. In any case, consult with your doctor.

More information

W.R. McIlwain, et al, “initial-negative HPV symptoms in patients with mouth HPV-positive and cancer and throat” (in English), Journal of the American Medical Association Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, March 20, 2014 doi: 10.1001 /jamaoto.2014.141