Oral Sex & Throat Cancer
- A new study published by Cancer says that the number of oral sex partners a person has can increase their risk of developing throat cancer.
- Oropharyngeal (throat) cancer affects approximately 50,000 people in the U.S. annually, and the incidence of this disease has been increasing over the years.
- Coping with a diagnosis like throat cancer can be helped with resources like therapy, as a way to work through the emotions that may accompany a cancer diagnosis, such as grief and depression.
Understanding Throat Cancer
According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 50,000 new cases of oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancer will be diagnosed each year. Oropharyngeal cancer is a type of head and neck or throat cancer that’s most commonly associated with HPV. This type of cancer is far more common in men than in women and the incidence has been increasing over time.
In addition to HPV, other risk factors for oropharyngeal cancer can include heavy smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. Dr. Jessica Geiger, Medical Oncologist at Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center, said in a previous interview that throat cancer doesn’t have specific screening procedures. “Right now, there are no screening guidelines to screen for throat cancer, unlike cervical cancer with pap smears. And there are no standard tests to determine if you harbor the virus,” said Dr. Geiger.
Dr. Geiger said that HPV-related throat cancers are highly treatable. “There is no concern that you’re going to spread this cancer to your partner or to anyone else because at this point your partner has already been exposed to the virus and likely cleared it. HPV-related throat cancer, generally, is very responsive to treatment with radiation and chemotherapy. And the cure rates for patients who have HPV-related disease are a lot higher than those who have tobacco-related throat cancer.”
The HPV Vaccine
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S. and it causes most throat cancers. This makes getting the HPV vaccine all the more important, not just for sexual health, but for overall health and cancer prevention.
Dr. Geiger said in a previous interview, “We recommend strongly that children are vaccinated against HPV to prevent cervical cancer, but also to prevent head and neck cancer. HPV is spread through sexual contact. Now the key with the vaccine is that you received the vaccine before you ever reach sexual debut or have sexual encounters. So that’s why these vaccines are approved for young children ages 9, 10, 11 years old, up to 26.”