Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Could I have HPV throat cancer?"
3 1/2 months ago I performed oral sex on a girl I didn't know very well, I recently (on the 3 month mark) tested negative for all STD's however I developed a tongue lesion that keeps coming back every month I would say since the event. I have also developed 1 or 2 sore throats since then, and a nagging clearing of the throat is persistent. Around 4 days ago I have started to feel a weird sensation around my left lymph node. I have felt it under my jaw, and compared it my right lymph node I feel that it is very very slightly bigger, but there is no pain. My question is, is 3 month enough time to develop HPV related throat cancer?
I am sorry to hear that you are worried that you may have an HPV related oropharyngeal cancer after an exposure 3.5 months ago. You are correct in your assumption that HPV or (Human Papilloma Virus) can be a sexually transmitted infection. There are many different strains of the HPV virus, and I recommend that you make an appointment with an ENT. Some of the strains can cause cervical cancer in women, others cause genital warts, and others can cause HPV related oropharyngeal cancer. Typically in the head and neck, HPV infects lymphoid tissue (that is tissue that is part of the lymph, or immune system). this typically includes the base of tongue (because of the lingual tonsils on the back of the tongue) and the pharyngeal tonsils. In fact, some argue that there is currently an epidemic of tonsil and base of tongue oropharyngeal cancers due to HPV. One benefit of HPV related oropharyngeal cancers is that they tend to respond better to chemoradiation therapy than do other more 'traditional' head and neck cancers (which are most commonly caused secondary to tobacco and alcohol abuse). It is unclear how long it takes for the HPV virus to cause a cancer in any given individual. There are many people infected with HPV that will never develop a cancer. My recommendation is that you make an appointment with an ENT (Ear Nose Throat) physician to get evaluated. They will be able to follow you and determine if you have any findings suspicious for an oropharyngeal cancer.
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