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For example, oral HPV was more common in men than women -- 10 percent versus almost 4 percent; in smokers; and in people who had many sexual partners. People aged 55 to 59 were most at risk.
Sexual activity was a strong risk factor, including oral sex.
Oral HPV infection rates were much lower than previous estimates for HPV affecting the cervix and other genital areas, suggesting that the mouth might somehow be more resistant to infection, according to a journal editorial.
Dr. Hans Schlecht, the editorial author and an infectious disease specialist at Drexel University in Philadelphia, said the study provides fodder for researching how some infections lead to cancer and identifying ways to detect and treat HPV-related oral lesions before they turn into cancer.
Unlike non-HPV cancers easily seen in the front of the mouth, HPV-linked tumors in the rear tongue and tonsil area are often hard to detect.
Schlecht emphasized the importance of knowing symptoms of these cancers, which can include a sore throat, difficulty swallowing, ear pain and swollen lymph nodes in the neck.
Oral cancer: http://1.usa.gov/nryAUh
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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