Throat cancer from Human papillomavirus (HPV), a disease usually transmitted through sexual contact, has tripled in recent decades, according a new study.

Researchers from Ohio State University and the National Cancer Institute found that oral cancer tissue testing positive for HPV rose from 16 percent in 1998 to 72 percent in 2004.

Throat cancers caused by HPV have risen to 2.6 per 100,000 people in 2004 from 0.8 cases per 100,000 people in 1988, the study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found.

If the rate continues to rise, HPV will cause more throat cancer than cervical cancer by 2020, researchers said.

Symptoms of oropharyngeal cancer, as throat in the neck and throat area is called include swelling in lymph nodes, the neck, ear aches or a long-term sore throat.

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection that can also infect the genital areas of males and females.

Most people who have become infected may not know they have it and in 90 percent of cases, the body's immune system may clear the virus within two years, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

However infections may occur that manifest themselves as genital warts, rarely as warts in the throat, and cervical cancer, among others.