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How Common is Throat Cancer from HPV?

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by thepleasurechest

douglas

Actor Michael Douglas made news over the weekend by revealing that his recent illness from throat cancer was the result of contracting HPV from cunnilingus. (Yesterday, he seemed to walk back that claim.) Whatever the facts in Douglas’ case, the story highlights a growing concern among medical professionals about the link between HPV and oral cancer. From Jezebel:

Every year in the U.S., about 5,600 men contract cancers of the oropharynx (back of throat), but many of these cancers are related to tobacco and alcohol use, not HPV, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A recent study on the prevalence of oral HPV infection in the U.S. found that HPV infection is the principal cause of a specific form of oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma that is increasing in incidence among men in the United States, but acknowledged that little is still known about the epidemiology (the study of disease/its prevention) of oral HPV infection.

So, basically there’s a risk, but experts still don’t know how great that risk is. The article goes on to acknowledge that drinking and smoking are two of the primary causes of throat cancer, and may have been contributing factors in Douglas’ illness.

Still, for those of us concerned about the risks associated with HPV and oral sex, there’s a solution. The CDC recommends the vaccine Gardasil for men and women, beginning at 11 and up to age 26. In the meantime, Douglas’ comments have begun an important conversation on HPV and safer sex.

 

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