Throat Cancer From Oral Sex

Each year, about 11,600 people in the United States are diagnosed with throat cancer that may be caused by HPV. Men and women can get HPV from having oral sex or other sex play. Oral sex and many varying sexual contacts are risk factors for this type of throat cancer that occurs mainly in men. Survival of patients whose throat cancer is caused by HPV is better than in other throat cancer patients.

These are the conclusions of doctor-researcher Michelle Rietbergen. She did research among patients from VUmc in the period 1990 to 2010. Important causes are smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. However, research by Michelle Rietbergen reveals that infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV) causes more frequent throat cancer. HPV throat cancer occurs four times more often in men than women.

HPV is the virus that can cause cervical cancer in women. Many fluent sex partners and oral sex are risk factors for HPV throat cancer. This may be the cause of the increase: 'Foreign research shows that the number of sexual partners increases', Rietbergen explains in De Volkskrant. In addition, it is an international problem: "In the US, 70 percent of all throat cancer cases are HVP positive."

Rietbergen compared the survival of patients with HPV positive throat cancer to those of throat cancer patients caused by smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. Five years after diagnosis, seventy percent of patients still live with HPV positive throat cancer, while this percentage in the other group is only 40 percent.

Good response to treatment
"Apparently, HPV positive throat tumors respond well to chemotherapy and radiation treatment," concludes Rietbergen. This may mean that patients with HPV positive throat cancer may need to undergo a less severe chemotherapy or radiation treatment in the future.

Therefore, all throat cancer patients in the Netherlands are currently being tested on HPV. Because it is crucial to use a reliable HPV test for throat cancer, Rietbergen examined various tests that are in circulation. They showed that the combination of so-called immunostaining with an HPV DNA test is the best.

Pray for HPV vaccine
Rietbergen emphasizes that these facts call for HPV vaccination. "Inoculation can not only prevent cervical cancer in women but possibly also this type of throat cancer in women and men."

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References :
  1. National Cancer Institute
  2. Mayo Clinic
  3. American Cancer Society