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hpv and oral sex

Jun 05, 2013 - 4 comments

oral sex



Thanks to Michael Douglas, hpv and oral cancer is in the spot light.  I thought this article was pretty decent about it. I also will link to some of the best posts by the std experts here on medhelp about it too for more reading :)

ASCO: Actor's Oral Sex Remarks May Aid HPV Prevention
By Crystal Phend, Senior Staff Writer, MedPage Today
Published: June 03, 2013

CHICAGO -- Actor Michael Douglas' apparent claim that he got throat cancer from human papillomavirus (HPV) contracted through oral sex may help aid prevention efforts, experts suggested.

Douglas, now 68, was diagnosed with a "walnut-sized" stage IV tumor at the base of his tongue in 2010 after months of oral discomfort. His well-known tobacco and alcohol habits -- both risk factors for oropharyngeal cancers -- had been thought to be the cause, but he appeared to indicate otherwise in an interview appearing in British tabloid The Guardian yesterday.

While one of his representatives has since challenged that interpretation of the interview, the spotlight on HPV as a cause of cancer should promote awareness of the need for HPV vaccination, head and neck cancer and HPV specialists contacted here at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting said.

"It's no surprise to physicians such as myself, because probably 80% of the tonsil and tongue cancers I see are related to HPV," Eric Moore, MD, an oropharyngeal cancer specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., noted in an interview with MedPage Today.

Most adults become exposed to the virus at some point but clear it like any other infection. Those who become chronically infected are at elevated risk of cervical, anal, and head and neck cancers, particularly from subtype 16.

The tonsils and base of tongue are the predominant areas affected in the head and neck because of the deep pockets in the tissue there that allows the virus a foothold, similar to the cervix, Moore explained.

Oral sexual contact is how HPV is thought to spread to the mouth and throat, and men appear to more readily acquire the virus from women than women do from men, as is true in other sexually transmitted infections, noted William Schaffner, MD, an infectious diseases specialist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.

While many patients worry about who they may have gotten the virus from and who they have given it to, clinicians can reassure patients that testing family members and partners isn't necessary.

"It's impossible to know in people with multiple sexual partners how they got it," he said. "If you went back and tested their partners, you wouldn't even know because they may have cleared the infection."

Moreover, there isn't an established and reliable test for oral HPV unlike for the cervix.

Examination of the mouth, tongue, and head and neck lymph nodes during a dental exam should help catch oropharyngeal cancers at an early stage, Schaffner noted.

But there isn't a treatment for chronic HPV infection or any evidence supporting HPV testing for nonsymptomatic individuals, added Marcia Brose, MD, PhD, a head and neck cancer specialist at the Abramson Cancer Center in Philadelphia.

"We're not even near that yet," she told MedPage Today.

But those considerations make prevention all the more important, and for that reason public awareness of Douglas' case could be helpful, Schaffner said.

"It will generate many conversations," he said. "I don't believe it will change a great deal of behavior, but certainly knowledge that HPV is increasing and HPV is a cause of cancers may make understandable CDC recommendation that all children should be vaccinated against HPV."

Brose and Moore agreed that physicians can take advantage of conversations about HPV- and oral-sex-related risk to promote vaccination of adolescents.

"It's not as clear cut whether adults should be vaccinated," Moore noted. "After you've already seen the virus, the vaccine doesn't work because you've already been 'auto-vaccinated' by clearing the virus."

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101028 tn?1419603004
by gracefromHHP, Jun 05, 2013

this post from HHH also links to some other past posts too for more reading.

Avatar universal
by mam295, Jun 17, 2013
About 3 years ago my brother was diagnosed with the same kind of cancer.  The oncologist attributed it to the sexual revolution of the 70's (a lot of oral sex) suggesting that the hpv virus layed dormant then exploded.  My brother was 57 at the time.  The oncologist had treated 3 men (2 were lawyers) in that past year with the same diagnosis.  I met another man who had a scarf around his neck.  We got to talking.  He said he had just finished radiation for.....the same diagnosis.  I asked his age at the time.  He said he was 56.  His doctor also attributed it to the hpv virus.

Avatar universal
by mam295, Jun 17, 2013
Meant to note.....The 3 men the oncologist had treated were all around the same age as well.

101028 tn?1419603004
by gracefromHHP, Jun 17, 2013
hpv infections typically "clear" themselves from the body on their own. it's the types that persist in infecting someone that lead to cancer and precancerous issues.  You can  be infected with hpv for 10, 20, 30 or more years before it can progress to any cancerous issues which is why typically we see hpv related cancers in the later years.

hopefully with more and more folks under 30 getting the gardasil vaccine series, we'll see even less cases of hpv related cancers in our lifetime - regardless of location :)

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