Infographic: HPV Related Oral Cancers

Head and Neck Cancers on the Rise

Head and neck cancers caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) are becoming increasingly common.

HPV-related head and neck cancers have been increasing and are often found in younger, otherwise healthy people, including non-smokers.

HPV estimated to displace smoking and alcohol as main cause of head and neck cancers by 2030.

Chronic infection with the virus can cause cells in the throat to live longer and divide faster, creating cancer.

The most common sign of an HPV-related head and neck cancer is a painless neck mass.

HPV head and neck cancers primarily occur in the tonsil and the tonsil tissue at the back of the tongue.

What is HPV and how common is it?

HPV is a sexually transmitted virus that is extremely common.

75% of Americans are exposed to HPV in their lifetime

24% of total U.S. population is chronically infected and are at risk for developing cancer

34,000 people diagnosed with HPV-related cancers each year

  • Only a small percentage of those infected develop cancer
  • Of the people who become chronically infected, the virus can be present for decades before cancer develops
  • Also a leading cause of cervical and other cancers

How can the risk of HPV-related head and neck cancers be reduced?

  • Get vaccinated (men and women)
  • Have your children vaccinated
  • See a doctor if you find any lumps in your neck or have a persistent sore throat

What can be done to treat HPV head and neck cancers?

The good news – HPV-related head and neck cancers, when caught early are highly treatable.


  • Doctors can determine the tumor's size, location and characteristics and choose treatment accordingly


  • A customized application of surgery, radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy is most common
  • Treatment at a center with expertise in head and neck cancer is strongly recommended
  • Clinical trials are exploring new treatment approaches to improve quality of life after treatment


  • Recovery time and side effects can be minimized by choosing the right treatment, procedure and dosage