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True or False: You Can Get Oral Cancer From Oral Sex

By HERWriter
 
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True or False? You Can Get Oral Cancer From Oral Sex Lev Dolgachov/PhotoSpin

Yes, it’s true. About 60 percent of oropharyngeal cancers are related to human papillomavirus, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases.

These are cancers of the throat, tonsils and the base of tongue as reported by Time.com. In the United States, every year, it is estimated that more than 2,370 new cases of HPV-related oropharyngeal cancers are diagnosed in women and about 9,356 are diagnosed in men.

WomensHealthMag.com cited the American Cancer Society as saying that roughly one-quarter of all oral cancers are now HPV-related.

HPV infections can be sneaky. Columbia University’s Go Ask Alice column wrote that HPV infections can be symptom-free for years. As a result, HPV can be passed from the infected person to their partner without them even knowing they have the virus.

Dr. Maura Gillison, a professor at the Ohio State University who studies HPV infections of the head, neck and throat, said there are about 15 different HPV types that are established causes of cancer.

The two most common are HPV-16 and 18. These two account for around 70 percent of cervical cancers.

“For oral infection, we find the same types of HPV in the oral cavity as we do in the cervix or genital region for men, but the infection is considerably less common,” Gillison told Time.com.

It is uncertain as to how long HPV-16 lingers in the mouth before turning into oral cancer. But what is certain is that more than 14 percent of cases aren't caught until very late stages, according to WomensHealthMag.com.

There is some good news. Survival rates are high. Among those with head and neck cancers, those who also have HPV have a higher survival rate.

Research results showed that HPV-16 was present in the tumors of 72 percent of oropharyngeal cancer patients enrolled in the study. Therefore people with HPV antibodies in their blood were 58 times more likely to have these oral cancers.

Pap smears are the best way for women to assess their HPV status. Pap smears check the cervix for irregular cells that may have resulted from HPV.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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