HPV is a sexually transmitted disease, or STD, that has concerned me for a number of years more than any other out there. We know that this is the form that can create cervical cancer which I have blogged about vis a vi my reservations on the vaccine Gardasil. What isn't common knowledge is the fact that the cancer-causing forms of this virus can and are producing cancerous lesions on other skin and mucous membrane surfaces it sets up shop on. Namely your throat, vagina, rectum and anus, and the surface of your genitals. This is not a women-only disease.
I just recently learned that HPV-triggered cancerous lesions localizes themselves most often on the base of the tongue too far back to be viewed without an oral surgeon or dentist who is trained to recogize early onset symptoms. Three mornings ago I read some more HPV data and realized I'd never looked that far back into the back of my throat. In my life. Off I went to the bathroom with a flashlight and a big spoon I planned on using as a tongue depressor.
I opened up wide, shined the light in and on the base of my tongue, the non-mobile part of it, and I saw a bunch of raised lesion-looking things. My stomach sank. They were chaotically dispursed, which isn't a good sign, as a doctor once told me to look for symmetry in the body. I got the heavy dread hit in my chest and stomach and called Betty and Carlin to tell them what I'd found and my concerns. Carlin suggested I visit Planned Parenthood to get them looked at and an HPV swab done to test for the presence of HPV. I contacted them and while they do administer the HPV check vaginally, they don't always do it for the throat, but according to Carlin, they do it for her. They also dont evaluate any suspected pathogenic lesions.
I called Carlin back and we brainstormed on other ideas that may be free clinic sorts of paths. They don't evaluate that either, nor do they swab for HPV. At least the ones here in NYC don't according to my research. They told me a doctor is where I have to go. After I got off the phone, I found an email Carlin had sent me with several doctors in NYC who specialize in STD's and treatment. Found a guy and immediately went to get an evaluation.
The first thing out of the doctor's mouth when I sat down was to tell me he's an internist and not an oral surgeon or dentist, who has the most specific training for dealing with oral cancers and is the one who conducts screenings. The doctor went on to say that he specializes in genital and rectal-based STD's. However, he would give me a visual exam to take a look at the mass of big bumps I found. Those were normal. Everyone has them. He said people make this mistake often and freak out because, like me, they never look that far back into their throats. He conducted the rest of the exam and from his perspective, saw no signs of oral cancer or pre-cancerous formations.