Doctors call the back of the mouth and top of the throat the oropharynx, so throat cancer is also called oropharyngeal cancer. This part of the body cannot easily be observed with the tools we use to detect mouth cancer and sliding a camera down patients’ throats is obviously intrusive. Additionally, the skin of the throat is so creviced that it is unlikely that scraping random parts of it to test for cancer would find any unless the cancer had already progressed.
There is currently no test for oral HPV, and only one strain of HPV is known to cause oral cancer. Therefore, patients should understand that pain, numbness, or swelling in the throat, as well as soreness in the jaw and ears, could be signs of oral cancer, even if they are not smokers. The good news is that HPV-associated throat cancer has a much higher survival rate than tobacco-associated cancer.
Drs. Matthew Garrison and Anna Jones operate at Garrison Family Dentistry, 14790 N. 169 Highway, Smithville, Missouri, 64089. To schedule an appointment, call 816-532-8778 or visit GarrisonDentistry.com and fill out a contact sheet.