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Head and Neck Cancer

HPV and Oral Cancer

10/25/2010

Question:

Once infected with a high risk HPV, how long does it take to develop into oral cancer or pre-cancerous lesions? They say it can take many years to develop cervical cancer from a high risk HPV such as HPV 16. Is it the same for the oral cavity including the throat?

Answer:

This is a good question. It is important to know that the incidence of infection in males and females above 50 years of age is approximately 50% and 30% respectively. With this in mind it becomes obvious that only a minority of infected individuals will get cancer from that infection. The amount of time required to develop cancer is not well known. On the average is seems to take 30 years.

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Response by:

Pierre  Lavertu, MD, FRCS(C), FACS Pierre Lavertu, MD, FRCS(C), FACS
Professor of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University