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Avatar universal

Throat cancer risk

Hi, I am a female who about five years ago had an abnormal pap smear and had it treated laser surg. I was told that I do have HPV 16 virus. I came across in a magizine at work about this also being linked to throat cancer and have been pretty worried ever since. I would think if I had HPV 16 my husband would have too, and I have been performing oral sex on him for years 7/8 years hundrends of times. I feel like my case is a little different than others about this topic bc I had abnormal cells "down there" so wouldnt there be a good chance i have them in my throat as well being exposed to it many times? and would it already be advancing into cancer? I do not somke- never have. I did have about one year  of heavy drinking in my early 20s but do not drink anymore. I don't know what to do about this if I should go to a ENT -what a weird topic to bring up with them! and would they even know what I was talking about.
2 Responses
239123 tn?1267647614
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
Welcome to the forum.  I'll try to help.

There has been substantial media attention in the past 5 years about oral HPV (HPV-16 in particular) and its relationship to some oral cancers, some of it quite alarming.  Some of the attention has referred broadly to "head and neck" cancer, but that's a broad category and really only one type, cancer of the throat, actually is related to HPV-16 and on the rise. But the bottom line is that the risks of cancer are extremely small.  Despite the apparent rising rate, it remains a rare cancer (currently somewhere around 10,000 cases per year in the entire United States -- a tiny drop in the bucket compared with breast, colon, lung, and other truly common malignancies.  And even the 10,000 known cases perhaps caused by HPV-16 have to be a teeny proportion of all persons who are exposed orally to the virus.  After all, HPV-16 is among the most common of all HPV types, and most infections are asymptomatic -- therefore millions and millions of people have unknowingly performed oral sex on infected partners.  Very, very few of them will get cancer.  And when they do, the HPV-16-related cancers occur mostly in people who also abuse alcohol or tobacco -- so even in those with HPV-16, cancer may be easily preventable.  

For those reasons, few if any knowledgeable experts currently recommend screening tests for oral HPV-16 (or other HPV types) -- even though you certainly can find doctors and labs willing to provide such a service to nervous persons.  Advice in the future could be different, as research is progressing rapidly, so I encourage you to keep aware of future developments.  But for now, please do not be seduced into spending money, time or energy worrying about this, or getting tested.  (But by the way, if you were to see an otolaryngologist about these issues, s/he would not consider it a "weird topic".  They are very aware of these issues; I'm sure it comes up very frequently in modern ENT practices.  For the most part, you'll find they agree with my comments about it.)

Here is another thread that discusses these issues in a bit more detail:  http://www.medhelp.org/posts/STDs/HPV-and-oral-cancer-risk-in-male/show/1181303

I hope this helps.  Best wishes--  HHH, MD
Avatar universal
Thanks for advise!
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