How to Treat & Prevent Tongue Cancer Caused by HPV

Approximately 8 million people across the U.S. are infected with a virus called human papillomavirus (HPV). Although not everyone with HPV gets tongue or tonsil cancer, having HPV greatly increases your cancer risk. Transmitted by kissing and intimate contact, HPV is a leading cause of base of tongue and tonsil cancer, so HPV prevention is key.

Ted Teknos, MD, professor and chair, Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute touches on several treatment options, including surgery, though the best way to prevent tongue cancer caused by HPV is by receiving the HPV vaccine.

To further develop treatment options, research is also happening at the OSUCCC – James around tonsil and tongue cancer caused by HPV. A scientist at the OSUCCC – James has figured out how HPV causes tongue and tonsil cancer and has developed a drug that “turns off” the virus, which has been shown to be highly effective in the lab. The drug will be submitted to the FDA for approval later this year. Other research looks at the genetics of these tumors, and Dr. Teknos said immunotherapy is also key in targeting the tumors.