Harvard Men's Health Watch

Head and neck cancer alert

Doctors are seeing a wave of cancer in men caused by the HPV virus. What should you do?

An epidemic of mouth and throat (oropharyngeal) cancer is under way in the United States. These tumors arise in the middle region of the throat, the base of the tongue, and the tonsils. They are caused by infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is the same virus that causes cervical cancer in women. Experts say that HPV-caused oropharyngeal cancers could become more common than cervical cancer by 2020.

"This is happening before our very eyes," says Dr. Lori Wirth, an assistant professor in medicine at Harvard Medical School and the medical director of the Center for Head and Neck Cancers, Massachusetts General Hospital. "The phenomenon is really quite striking."

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »