January 26, 2013

Infographic: HPV from Oral Sex Causes Throat Cancer

I have blogged in the past regarding how HPV transmitted through oral sex (and potentially even French kissing) has now become the number 1 cause of throat cancer in individuals under the age of 50, even more than smoking and drinking alcohol [link]. Of course, smoking and alcohol further exacerbates this risk.

Indeed, A 2007 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that younger people with head and neck cancers who tested positive for oral HPV infection were more likely to have had multiple vaginal and oral sex partners in their lifetime. Having six or more oral sex partners over a lifetime was associated with a 3.4 times higher risk for oropharyngeal cancer; cancers of the base of the tongue, back of the throat, or tonsils. Having 26 or more vaginal-sex partners tripled the risk. The association continued to increase as the number of partners in either category increased. Of greater concern is that "French" kissing may also potentially be a mode of transmission.

In any case, Mt. Sinai Hospital published a great infographic to further educate the risks of oral sex. Needless to say, if you find/see an abnormal bump in the mouth, talk to your doctor about it!

Of note, our office does offer the HPV spit test to see if HPV is present in the mouth/throat.

Human papillomavirus and oropharyngeal cancer. N Engl J Med. 2007 Sep 13;357(11):1157; author reply 1157-8

Human papillomaviruses in head and neck carcinomas. N Engl J Med. 2007 May 10;356(19):1993-5.

Case-control study of human papillomavirus and oropharyngeal cancer. N Engl J Med. 2007 May 10;356(19):1944-56.
Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.

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