Oral sex may cause more throat cancer than smoking due to HPV


Throat cancer forms in tissues of the pharynx. A new study conducted at Ohio State University indicate that oral sex can increase the risk for throat cancer.

What are forms of throat cancer?
Pharynx, the hollow tube inside the neck that starts behind the nose and ends at the top of the windpipe and esophagus, is generally the location of throat cancer. Throat cancer includes cancer of the nasopharynx (the upper part of the throat behind the nose), the oropharynx (the middle part of the pharynx), and the hypopharynx (the bottom part of the pharynx). Cancer of the larynx (voice box) may also be included as a type of throat cancer. Most throat cancers are squamous cell carcinomas (cancer that begins in thin, flat cells that look like fish scales). Also called pharyngeal cancer.

What are symptoms of throat cancer?
Abnormal (high-pitched) breathing sounds, cough and coughing up blood, difficulty in swallowing, neck pain, sore throat that continues for 1 – 2 weeks and does not get cured by medication and swelling or lumps in the neck.

Oral sex leads to more cases of throat cancer
Prof. Maura Gillison of Ohio State University in Columbus and his colleagues have concluded that the sexually transmitted HPV, a virus spread by oral sex and known for infecting genitals, can cause oral cancer.

Researchers examined 271 throat-tumor samples collected over 20 years and...

found that the majority of oral cancer were due to the human papillomavirus, or HPV.  Researchers now believe that 70% of oropharyngeal cancers are caused by HPV infection. It was further concluded that by 2020, the virus-linked throat tumor which mostly affected men, will become more common than HPV-caused cervical cancer.

Maura Gillison told  “The burden of cancer caused by HPV is going to shift from women to men in this decade. What we believe is happening is that the number of sexual partners and exposure to HPV has risen over that same time period.”

Gillison further said that she worked with researchers at Whitehouse Station, New Jersey-based Merck & Co several years ago to design a study in men and the trial “was canceled,” after Merck acquired Schering-Plough Corp. in 2009.

Looks like this is not the first study, which establishes link between HPV virus and throat cancer and has been a subject of research from several years.  Researchers acknowledge that adequate steps are needed in order to have control over this situation.


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