Harvard Men's Health Watch

Virus linked to throat cancer often clears spontaneously

Most men infected with the oral human papilloma virus (HPV), which raises the risk of throat cancer, spontaneously suppress the infection without medication within a year, according to the findings of an study in The Lancet. The virus is contracted via oral sex and deep kissing.

The study followed a group of 1,626 men. Researchers checked in with the men every six months for four years to see how many were infected with oral HPV and how well their immune systems fought off the infection. Most men cleared the virus within a year.

The longer an oral HPV infection persists, the greater the chance of cancer. There is no screening test for oral HPV yet, but men can stay alert for early signs of cancer in the throat and base of the tongue. Tell your doctor if you have a sore throat that does not go away, trouble swallowing, and a lump in the neck or back of the throat.

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