Papillomaviruses are one of the oldest viruses known, dating back million years. During this long evolution, human papillomaviruses HPV have developed into hijackers of human cellular and immune systems in which they replicate and remain silent. Systematic studies on oral HPV infections and their outcomes are still scarce. Most HPV infections in infants are acquired vertically from the mother during the intrauterine period, during delivery, or later via saliva.
HPV oral and oropharyngeal cancers are harder to discover than tobacco related cancers because the symptoms are not always obvious to the individual who is developing the disease, or to professionals that are looking for it. They can be very subtle and painless. A dentist or doctor should evaluate any symptoms that you are concerned with, and certainly anything that has persisted for two or more weeks. Although there are many adjunctive oral cancer screening devices and tests, currently none of them can find HPV positive oral and oropharyngeal cancers early. The best way to screen for HPV related oral and oropharyngeal cancer today is through a visual and tactile exam given by a medical or dental professional, who will also do an oral history taking to ask about signs and symptoms that cover things that are not visible or palpable.
There are more than different types of HPV. The most common types are found on the skin and appear as warts seen on the hand. Some HPV types also infect the genital areas of males and females. There are at least 40 HPV types that can affect the genital areas.