Human papilloma virus is a virus grouped under sexually transmitted viruses. The virus generally infects the genitals, however the HPV has also been reported to infect the throat leading to cases of tonsillar carcinoma or cancer of the throat. Tonsillar HPV therefore are HPV viruses that infects the throat.
Mode of transmission
Based on scientific evidence, tonsillar HPV is predominantly acquired through sexual interaction with an infected individual.Cases of tonsillar HPV have been on the rise in the recent past and this has been linked to the increase in the rate of oral sexual behavior.The risk of infection and prevalence increases concurrently with lifetime sexual partners and also with any type of sexual behavior not only oral but also vaginal sex.
Prevalence of tonsillar HPV
According to recent studies up to 7% of Americans at the age of 14-69 are infected with tonsillar HPV. It has also been reported that over the past three decades the infection has significantly increased with the disease being more prevalent among male than female. The most common type of tonsillar virus detectable in most infections is HPV-16 which is a high risk sub-type of cancer of the oropharyngeal (mouth and pharynx).HPV-16 prevalence is estimated at about 1% in both genders.
Symptoms of Oral HPV infection
The infection by tonsillar HPV has no early symptoms. When infected with high risk type then some symptoms are exhibited with time. This includes; sore throat, tonsils at the base of the tongue, warts in the mouth, jaw pains, numbness of the tongue,hoarseness that is persistent,troubles in swallowing and soft palate.
Consequences of tonsillar HPV infection
The infection by tonsillar HPV has been linked with the oropharyngeal cancer (mouth and throat cancer). The sub-type HPV-16 is the main causative agent in this cases of cancer as mostly up to 84% of cases of oropharyngeal cancer reported HPV-16 DNA has been successfully extracted. However most people with tonsillar HPV infections rarely develop cancer as most sub-types are not carcinogenic. Millions of Americans for instance have been reported to have tonsillar HPV, however only 15,000 develop oropharyngeal cancer annually.
The diagnosis of tonsillar HPV is done through screening by a qualified medical practitioner. The diagnosis is mostly done to individuals who have significant signs and symptoms of infection. Doctors can use laryngoscopes and pharyngoscopes to inspect areas that are hard to see such as the larynx and the throat. In the event that some areas are not visible by ordinary laryngoscopes and pharyngoscopes then doctors will prefer to use flexible laryngoscopes and pharyngoscopes to view hidden organs accurately. At times cells from the throat region may be extracted and a biopsy carried out to examine if the cells are exhibiting cases of cancer. A cancerous cells has some distinctive properties that enables the doctor to differentiate it from a wild type cell. This includes; an increased vacuole size and large nucleus. Biopsy samples can also be tested for the for the presence of tonsillar HPV DNA using molecular techniques. Signs of HPV positive cancer include the presence of tonsillar HPV DNA and certain signs and symptoms that come late in the event of tonsillar HPV infections such as persistent hoarseness in voice, pains in the jaw, coughing blood and trouble in swallowing among others.
Prevention of tonsillar HPV
Tonsillar HPV infection surest way of prevention is abstinence from sex. Vaccines have been developed that prevent cervical cancers though not much has been reported linking the vaccines to possible protection against tonsillar HPV and tonsillar carcinoma in the long run.Therefore this leaves us with only one way to prevent against infection which is abstinence.
Tonsil stones and cancer
Tonsil stones are rarely observed conditions though not easy to understand and diagnose.They act as sentinels protecting the intestines and lungs against bacterial infections. Tonsil stones are very rare situations and rarely considered as a pathological condition. Due to lack of published work on them questions have been asked whether they can cause tonsil cancer. Though they have similar appearance to malignant tumors the concern is unfounded due to lack of scientifically proven evidence though understandable. Therefore as at now we can not link cases of tonsil cancers to tonsil stones.
In summary it is worth saying that individuals who get involved in sex with various sexual partners and in oral sex need to check for the presence of risk type tonsillar HPV even if the signs and symptoms are not visible. This is the only way for early diagnosis of the disease and will help curb cases of tonsillar carcinoma.