Hello Dr. Hook and Dr. Handsfield,
I know with the recent news regarding Michael Douglas, you've been inundated with inquiries and I thank you for taking the time to answer as many questions as you do. I actually posted a question about HPV and throat cancer over a year ago and was grateful for the thoughtful and informative response you provided. I am a 31 year old male who has had numerous partners (about 20 - both male and female), where oral sex was involved. I am, and always have been, a non-smoker, I do not drink often, and am generally pretty healthy. I've been in a committed relationship for over about 2 years and plan on remaining active with only this person.
My concern is that I have contracted HPV through oral sex and it is just waiting to develop into cancer. What feeds into this concern are:
1. The number of partners I've had
2. I am susceptible to frequent sore throats, although I try to reassure myself that this is just my genes as my sister also experienced this and eventually had her tonsils taken out (I still have my tonsils)
3. I occasionally get a sharp shooting pain in my ear
I saw both an oral surgeon and an ENT about a year ago and they performed a thorough oral examine and said there was no trace of any lesions. However, I still find myself anxious from time to time and wonder if you'd be so kind to answer the following questions:
1. Are the symptoms I explained cause for concern?
2. Does throat/oral cancer first manifest as a lesion or a tumor? Or are those essentially the same?
3. How did Michael Douglas' tumor go undetected for so long? I was reassuring myself that regular visits to the dentist would allow for early detection and ensure that if I ever do develop oral/throat cancer it would be treated in the early stages and pose little serious threat. Now, however, I feel less confident. I'm sure Michael Douglas had some of the best oral surgeons and ENT's and they still did not detect it. Are regular visits to the dentist really adequate?
4. How serious of a risk am I placing my partner when I perform oral sex on her? I would feel so guilty if she ever got HPV related cancer because of me.
Thank you so much for your time. I know this was a rather long entry but I wanted to make sure I addressed all my concerns to avoid an ongoing chain of exchanges.