- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
HPV: Cancer Linked to Oral Sex
HPV is the sexually transmitted disease virus called papillomavirus. In women, it causes cervical cancer. In the last 10 years, the STD has shot up reaching near pandemic levels in the USA. Over 50% of men and women are infected with it at some time, about 20 million researchers indicated. There are more than 100 varieties of HPV, some are low risk but it is the high risk ones, those causing cancer, that have shot up in numbers.
Research predicts that in men, oral type cancers could be nearly 30% by 2020. Between 1988 and 2004, HPV cancer on the tongue and tonsil area increased by 225% in 4500 cases studied. By 2010, this rose to 6700 cases of cancer HPV in this area.
Men account for the dramatic increase between ages 40-55. The HPV can remain silent for 10 years after exposure. Researchers think that if men and women have a high number of sexual partners, the risk to HPV grows exponentially. Having oral sex of any kind, failing to use condoms and even French kissing cannot be ruled out as how the virus is transmitted if one partner is infected. HPV usually has no symptoms when infected and it seldom just goes away. The throat type cancers are are to detect for sometime, most are small warts at the back of the tongue and throat, places very difficult for a doctor to exam without special devices.
Typical symptoms are hoarseness, difficulty in swallowing, a neck mass or mouth sore that fails to heal, or lumps on the neck. If cancer is found, survival rates are 85-90% over five years than cancer caused by tobacco chewing. Doctors want to immunize boys and men for HPV with Gardasil, a vaccine commonly used to immunize girls and women.