A new study from researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine has found that individuals with human papillomavirus, specifically HPV-16 in their mouths are 22% more likely to develop a type of head and neck cancer compared to people without it.
In their study, the researchers conducted two different nationwide studies consisting of almost 97,000 people. Patients who were considered cancer-free at the beginning of the study were asked to provide mouthwash samples for the study. Researchers identified 132 cases of head and neck cancer after an average of four years of follow-up. Also included was a comparison group of 396 healthy subjects.
Participants who displayed symptoms of HPV-16 were 22 times more likely to be diagnosed with oropharyngeal cancer compared to participants who showed no signs of HPV. The Einstein College team also discovered the presence of other types of oral HPV: Beta- and gamma-HPV, which are usually detected in the skin, but were associated with the development of head and neck cancers.
There was some good news from the study, as well. Easy-to-collect mouthwash samples could potentially help predict a person’s risk for head and neck cancer development, the team said.