Since the 1970s, the number of people with tonsil cancer in Stockholm has tripled. Now researchers have linked the increase to HPV and say the rise of oral sex during this time is to blame.
A study from the Karolinska Institute found that subjects with the human papillomavirus in their mouths are more likely to get tonsil cancer. It takes 20 to 30 years for an HPV infection to result in cancer, so those who are sick today were infected in the '70s and '80s. Of 120 patients in the city who got the cancer between 2003 and 2007, at least 83 were HPV-positive.
Doctors hope that the new HPV vaccine will help reduce the rate of tonsil cancer, especially because the disease has almost no symptoms and often goes untreated until it spreads to the lymph nodes. Researcher Tina Dalianis says if people "have a lump in their throat, especially if it's on one side and it doesn't go away with antibiotics, they should see a doctor."
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