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Oral Cancer

How could 94-yr-old develop HPV tongue cancer

07/21/2009

Question:

My mother who is 94 was just diagnosed with the probability of having cancer. She has a mass at the base of her tongue and today a biopsy was done to determine a diagnosis. The otolaryngology surgeon who performed the biopsy stated that the growth could possibly be the result of HPV. My brother believes that my mother could have come in contact with HPV from improper handling of her dentures. Is this possible?? How else could someone of her age, have come in contact with the HPV virus?

Answer:

I believe this has little to do with dentures. It is not possible to conjecture how your mother acquired the virus, but in general HPV is an extremely common virus amongst the population and is thought to be exchanged through sexual activity/practices and could potentially be present for a very long time (decades). Although some throat cancers are certainly associated with HPV, it is likely that in the large majority of people infected with HPV that the overall likelihood of developing throat cancer is considered low.

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Response by:

Amit  Agrawal, MD Amit Agrawal, MD
Associate Professor of Otolaryngology
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University