DocTalk: Oral Cancer Awareness

Doc Talk Oral Cancer

April is oral cancer awareness month, many people are probably aware that oral cancer can be caused by tobacco use but, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 70% of oropharyngeal cancers are caused by Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).

The CDC states that there are more than 100 types of HPV and only about 40 of those are spread through direct sexual contact. The CDC estimates that 10% of men and 3.6% of women in the United State have oral HPV. Midtown’s Chief Dental Officer, Dr. David Seger said it takes time before HPV infections could develop into oral cancer.

“Things to watch out for are ulcers or sores that do not heal, abnormal color or texture of tissues in your mouth,” Dr. Seger said. “That’s when you should get an appointment to get checked out. Also, pain in the mouth or ear, lumps or growths and difficulty swallowing.”

According to the CDC, HPV can infect the mouth and throat and cause cancers in the back of the throat which is called oropharyngeal cancer. Dr. Seger and the CDC recommend HPV vaccinations as well as refraining from alcohol and tobacco use.

“Currently, CDC recommends HPV vaccination for 11 to 12 years old up to age 26, if not already vaccinated,” Dr. Seger said. “This can prevent new infections but is not for treating existing infections.”


Midtown Health Center’s DocTalk is a collaborative effort of Dr. Emily Vuchetich, Chief Medical Officer; Dr. David Seger, Chief Dental Officer; Dr. Josh Turek, Chief Behavioral Health Officer as well as Midtown’s other providers. For a full list of Midtown’s providers, as well as more information about Midtown please visit