CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The Human Papillomavirus or HPV is usually linked to cervical cancer in women and genital warts in both men and women.
Physician Dr.Thaddeus John Bell says there's another concern on the rise stemming from HPV and the big concern is the group that it's affecting the most.
"Oral cancer is on the rise, particularly in young people", Dr. Bell said.
Teacher and parent Shyra Taylor is used to teaching her teen students lessons about life and the dangers of risky behavior. Taylor was shocked to learn that not only is HPV spreading in teens but is also linked to oral cancer.
"I never knew simply because it's not discussed. Nobody talks about that", Taylor said.
Dr. Bell says the number one reason oral cancer is striking so many younger people is because of the practice of oral sex.
"When you have oral sex with someone who had HPV there is a possibility that the virus can get in your mouth and cause cancer," Dr. Bell said.
Dr. Bell says the most common cause of head, neck and throat cancer is not smoking and drinking anymore it's now caused by HPV.
More than 11,000 people die from HPV related cancer every year says Dr. Bell. Dr. Bell says giving the vaccine to younger children has been considered controversial by some, but getting vaccinated is strongly encouraged.
"The vaccine is recommended for boys and girls which can decrease the risk of developing HPV," Dr. Bell said.
It's something that Taylor is strongly considering for her 12-year-old son.
Dr. Bell says its equally important to pay attention to the signs and symptoms of this deadly cancer. A yearly check up or physical will look for anything unusual in your mouth or any legions on your tongue.
"Like most things in medicine, if you can get to it early and treat it early, survival is improved," Dr. Bell said.
Often times, kids feel they're not having sex by having oral sex, but the consequences are just as dangerous, says Dr. Bell.
"It is risky behavior and can lead to a deadly outcome," Dr. Bell said.