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Oral/Throat Cancer and HPV

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. 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 thorough oral examines and said there was no trace of any lesions.  However, I still find myself anxious 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, 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.
1 Responses
239123 tn?1267647614
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
Welcome back to the forum.  In asking the same question on the community forum, you say you previously asked a question in this forum about oral HPV and cancer, but I can't find anything under your current username.  Can you provide a link to that previous thread?

Just yesterday I answered a question on the same topic, in response to the Michael Douglas media stories, and it includes links to two other threads.  Please take a look:

http://www.medhelp.org/posts/STDs/Michael-Douglas---Oral-sex-caused-his-throat-cancer/show/19565

To your specific questions are:

1) Your symptoms have nothing to do with HPV, which doesn't cause sore throat.

2) "Lesion" just means any visible abnormality -- sore, bump, tumor, etc.  Pharyngeal cancer would usually start as a visible tumor.  Almost all cases occur in people older than you (generally age 40 to 50 or more).  Your risk for HPV related throat cancer is very low, and if it ever were to happen, it's likely many years in the future.

3) I cannot comment.  I have no idea how long Mr. Douglas had his cancer before it was diagnosed.

4) HPV is rarely if ever transmitted from mouth to genitals.  You are no more at risk for having HPV, either genital or oral, than most sexually active men.  With a moderate number of past sex partners, you can be sure you have had one or more genital HPV infections and perhaps (but not necessarily) oral HPV as well.  However, at your age it is likely that any HPV infections you had have long since been cleared by your immune system.  Any partners you have now or may have in the future are at low risk of catching HPV from you, by either from genital or oral sex, and no higher risk than from the average male partner your age.

The reasons behind these answers should be overed in the other threads, but let me know if anything remains unclear after you have read them.

Regards--  HHH, MD
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