oral sex

Michael Douglas: Oral sex gave me cancer

Source: NewYork Post
Last Updated: 11:31 AM, June 3, 2013
Posted: 8:49 PM, June 2, 2013

Michael Douglas has made a jaw-dropping revelation about his throat cancer: He didn’t contract it from smoking or drinking — but from oral sex.

The Oscar-winning Hollywood star set tongues wagging after he told The Guardian newspaper that he contracted HPV, or human papillomavirus, through a sex act and it developed into cancer.

“Without wanting to get too specific, this particular cancer is caused by HPV, which actually comes about from cunnilingus,” he told the British newspaper in an interview published yesterday.

After Douglas was diagnosed with the life-threatening illness in 2010, he said on “Late Show with David Letterman” that the kind of cancer he had was caused by smoking and drinking.

 Ghetty Images


Actor Michael Douglas said a virus from oral sex, not booze and cigarettes, gave him throat cancer.

In yesterday’s interview, the 68-year-old actor speculated that his son Cameron’s legal woes may have borne some responsibility, too.

“I did worry if the stress caused by my son’s incarceration didn’t help trigger it,” the “Wall Street” actor said of Cameron Douglas, who is serving 10 years in a federal prison for heroin possession and distribution.

“But, yeah, it’s a sexually transmitted disease that causes [the] cancer.”

A cancer-awareness advocate hailed Douglas for his blunt talk.

“I’m really quite proud of Michael saying this,” Brian Hill, executive director of the Oral Cancer Foundation, told The Post yesterday.

“This [oral sex] is not an aberrant sexual behavior. But the willingness to talk about this openly can be difficult.”

Douglas cut a public-service announcement for the Oral Cancer Foundation last year.

The actor didn’t disclose the cause of this throat cancer to foundation officials.

The group’s director said Douglas’ oral-sex admission doesn’t surprise him — because that’s how Hill contracted his own cancer.

“My wife cringes every time I talk about it, because I’m talking about our sex life,” Hill said.

Reps for Douglas and his actress wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones, could not be reached for comment.

Yesterday’s Guardian report didn’t address whether Douglas contracted the virus through contact with his 43-year-old spouse.

Douglas has been in the spotlight following the release last month of the HBO movie “Behind the Candelabra,” in which he stars as Liberace alongside Matt Damon.

The actor-producer has said he’s had success battling the ailment and has been cancer-free for more than two years.

Douglas has said several specialists missed his cancer and gave him antibiotics to treat ongoing oral discomfort.

Finally, a friend’s doctor in Montreal whipped out a tongue depressor, took one look inside the actor’s mouth and saw trouble.

“I will always remember the look on his face,” Douglas has said.

“He said, ‘We need a biopsy.’ There was a walnut-size tumor at the base of my tongue that no other doctor had seen.”

* This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.



HPV and oral cancer

Source: myfoxny.com
Date: Feb 21, 2013 4:02 PM PST  Updated: Feb 25, 2013 2:07 PM PST


Oral cancer is being diagnosed at near epidemic proportions, and in many cases it strikes those people who would least suspect it.

At 28, Jessica Tar appeared young and healthy. That is why she was floored to find out she had oral cancer; a small tumor was growing on her tongue.

“It was just this raised area, and pain from time to time,” Tar says.

They are symptoms many of may have ignored, but thankfully Jessica did not. Her cancer was caught early and had not spread.

She went to Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Dr. Jatin Shah for treatment. He recommended a surgery to remove part of her tongue, an aggressive treatment that threatened her career as an actress and singer.

“They tell you your mouth is going to be rearranged. The tip of your tongue, where you thought it once was, it won’t be there anymore,” Tar says.

Jessica Tar was anxious to get back to work, so she underwent extensive speech therapy. The hardest thing for her to pronounce was the letter S.

Jessica knew she want to work hard at it and she had the ultimate motivation, a specific name in mind for her daughter on the way.

“I said to my speech therapist if I can’t improve on these S’s I don’t think I’m going to name her Kalista, but I got better and the day she was born, we named her Kalista.”

Today Jessica is cancer-free, but doctors have never been able to pinpoint the cause of her cancer. “When you think of oral cancer the picture that comes to into your head is someone who smokes and drinks heavily. I’m neither of those things,” Tar says.

Even Dr. Shah was surprised by Jessica’s cancer diagnosis. Smoking and drinking are the most common risk factors, but that is changing.

The biggest risk factor now is the sexually transmitted virus called HPV, the same virus that can cause cervical cancer. Jessica did not have HPV, either.

But many being diagnosed now do. The Oral Cancer Foundation says 40,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year alone, the majority of those cases will be tied to HPV.

“Of the 100 patients coming in today with oral pharynx cancer I would say 80 percent will be HPV-positive,” says Dr. Shah.

And experts say that number is climbing in almost epidemic proportions.

Celebrities Michael Douglas, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Blythe Danner are helping spread the work about the potentially deadly disease.

Michael Douglas has battled oral cancer for several years.

Bruce Paltrow, Gwenth’s father and Blythe Danner’s husband, died from it download illustrator cs6.

“There is an epidemic of oral cancer among young people, unfortunately due to oral sex,” says Blythe Danner.

It’s not just young people, you can live with HPV for years and never know you have it, there is no way to screen for the virus and in most cases it doesn’t have any symptoms.

That is why at 52, Kevin Pruyne’s oral cancer diagnosis was a shock.

“I went to see my general doctor and she felt like it was just an infection or something like that and did the antibiotics,” says Kevin Pruyne.

After several months and rounds of antibiotics, Kevin’s ‘infection’ seemed to be getting worse.

Finally a CT scan and biopsy determined Kevin had stage 4 cancer, the cause?

The sexually transmitted virus HPV, Kevin didn’t know he had it or that it could cause cancer.

“You don’t talk about it but we have been monogamous for 30 years,” Kevin says.

Kevin and his wife, Kathy, were worried the cancer had taken too long to diagnose.

“If it’s gone past your collar bone and into your lungs its game over,” Kevin says.

Thankfully the cancer hadn’t reached his lungs. Kevin underwent an aggressive treatment of radiation and chemotherapy.

“He was sick, he was really sick and it was hard to see and watch him vomiting becoming less of the strong man that he was,” Kathy says.

Doctors say HPV-positive cancers are typically curable. A couple of months ago Kevin got the good news he is cancer free, but he still worries.

“You say what is my prognosis, you make up 5 years we will call you cured unless it pops up somewhere else,” Kevin says.

Kevin wishes he knew the dangers of HPV. Now he is warning everyone he knows.

“I’ve got some guys that I work with that are younger and have a tendency to be a bit more promiscuous than they should so I sent a letter saying listen this is what caused my cancer and you all need to be careful,” Kevin says.

The early symptoms of oral cancer, like a sore throat can easily go undetected, so early screening is important.

Dentists are now starting to do comprehensive oral cancer screenings.

Upper East Side Doctor Robert Friedman uses a florescent light to look for irregularities in the mouth.

“Your dentist is your mouth specialist,” Dr. Friedman says. “Dentists really should be the first line of detection of these types of known entities.”

Fluorescent light cancer screenings aren’t covered by most dental insurance policies, but it typically costs only $25.

There is a vaccine against HPV, Gardasil, which can be administered to pre-pubescent girls and boys.

A screening will be held in April:
Thursday, April 25, 2013
9:00 am – 12:00 Noon
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Enid A. Haupt Pavilion
425 East 67th Street
Fourth Floor, Suite 5
Between York and First Avenues

No appointment necessary. For further information, call 646-497-9161.

For More Information:



* This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.



Dentists asked to help in curbing mouth cancer


The increasing cases of oral cancer have pushed the Cancer Research UK to ask dentists to look for cancer related symptoms in their patients. By checking the mouth properly, dentists can gauge whether or not a person is prone of developing mouth cancer.

Mouth cancer can be lethal if timely treatment isn’t provided to the patients. Smoking and heavy drinking could be one of the reasons behind causing mouth cancer. Chewing tobacco is yet again contributing to mouth cancer. While examining the patients, the dentists have been advised to look for cancer contributing factors.

It is estimated that by 2030 there will be an increase in the number of mouth cancer patients. People under the age group of 50 years are growing becoming victim of mouth cancer. Oral sex is yet another factor that could lead to mouth cancer.

People need to be made aware about the growing incidences of mouth cancer so that innocent lives could be saved. Avoiding heavy drinking, smoke and unhygienic oral sex can help in preventing mouth cancer. Besides, dentists can also help in saving lives by detecting mouth cancer earlier through regular checkups. It is hoped that the dentists will take serious note of the recommendations.

September, 2012|Oral Cancer News|

Fewer teens having oral sex

Source: CNN.com

Fewer teens aged 15 to 17 are having oral sex now than in 2002, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, but the number remains high.

The report, based on data from The National Survey of Family Growth, found that more than a third of teens had engaged in oral sex by the time they turned 17. That number climbed to almost 50% by age 19, and more than 80% for 24-year-olds.

The study – based on computer surveys given to over 6,000 teens – also looked at the timing of first oral sex in relation to the timing of first vaginal intercourse. It found that the prevalence of having oral sex before vaginal intercourse was about the same as those having vaginal intercourse before oral sex.

“This new CDC analysis debunks many myths about when young people are initiating oral sex,” wrote Leslie Kantor, vice president for education at Planned Parenthood, a family planning advocacy group. “Although there has never been data to support it, there has been the perception that many teens engage in oral sex as a ‘risk-free’ alternative to intercourse. But the CDC analysis shows that sexually active young people are likely to engage in both activities,” she wrote.

How Americans view teen sex

But oral sex, like vaginal intercourse, is not risk-free. According to the CDC’s website, “numerous studies have demonstrated that oral sex can result in the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted disease,” not the least of which is Human Papillomavirus (HPV), the disease known to cause both cervical and some throat cancers.

“It’s widely accepted that there is an increased number of head and neck cancers today due to changes in sexual practices in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s,” – specifically, an increase in oral sex, said Dr. Otis Brawley, the chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society.

Regardless of whether teens have oral or vaginal sex first, Kantor says, it’s imperative they have the knowledge to make an educated decision about their sexual health.

“We need to make sure that young people have the skills to negotiate what they do and don’t want to do in sexual relationships, as well as education about and access to condoms and birth control so that they can protect themselves from STDs and pregnancy and remain healthy,” she wrote.

This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.

August, 2012|Oral Cancer News|

Oral cancer deaths declining among well-educated

Source: www.reuters.com
Author: Genevra Pittman

Deaths from mouth and throat cancer have dropped since the early 1990s, according to a new study — but only among people with at least a high school education.

Researchers said that may be due to higher rates of smoking and other oral cancer risks among less educated, poorer Americans, and because they’re also less likely to have access to timely health care. Similar trends have been shown in rates of death from lung and breast cancers, for example, they added.

“We have a lot more to do in terms of (the fact that) socioeconomic status probably is a really significant factor in mortality from oral and oropharyngeal cancers,” said Dr. Joseph Califano, who studies those cancers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore but wasn’t involved in the new research.

“Clearly access to health care to detect cancer in early stages is very important.”

The study, led by Dr. Amy Chen at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, included mouth and throat cancer data from 1993 through 2007 in 26 states. Among adults age 25 to 64, there were about 19,300 deaths during that period.

Cancer deaths declined during the 1990s and 2000s by two to five percent every year, on average, researchers found. By the end of the study period, the cancers killed three out of every 100,000 white men, six out of every 100,000 black men, and one each of every 100,000 white and black women annually.

But when Chen and her colleagues broke those findings down by education level, they found the downward trends only held up among black people with at least a high school education, and only among whites who’d completed some college.

That throat and mouth cancers are the latest type of cancer to show such a socioeconomic pattern is one more reason to make education a priority, Chen told Reuters Health.

“Investment in education is very important not only for the health status of the population, but also for the economic status of the population,” she added.

Chen said that smoking, alcohol abuse and the human papillomavirus (HPV) have all been linked to mouth and throat cancers — and smoking especially is known to be more common among poorer people with less education. Those same people are also less likely to have insurance or to see a primary care doctor regularly, which may mean that cancers are further along by the time they’re caught.

Mouth and throat cancer symptoms include persisting sore throat or ear pain, trouble swallowing and a lump in the throat that lasts more than a couple weeks, Chen said. “Anything like that should be checked out and made sure it’s not something as dire as throat cancer.”

Among the 4,000 cases of cancers in sites known to be associated with HPV, like the throat, tonsils and tongue, death rates only dropped significantly among more-educated black men, the study found. Those rates increased among white men and some white women, especially the less educated, Chen and her colleagues reported in Archives of Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery this week.

Chen highlighted the importance of using protection during sexual contact, including oral sex, and said that vaccinating both boys and girls against HPV may help bring down this rate — but probably not for some years.

“The incubation period, and the indolent phase of these cancers is a long time,” she said. “We’re talking about sexual behaviors that could have occurred 20 or 30 years before the incident cancer.”

Califano cautioned that researchers haven’t established whether the vaccine can definitely prevent mouth and throat cancers, saying there are still many questions about how oral sex and cancer are linked.

“It’s a really interesting study,” he concluded. “It probably opens more questions than it answers.”

Source: Archives of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, online (http://bit.ly/vXJyOS) November 21, 2011.

August, 2012|Oral Cancer News|

Oral sex may cause more oral cancer than smoking in men, researchers say

Source: www.bloomberg.com
Author: Robert Langreth

A virus spread by oral sex may cause more cases of throat cancer in men than smoking, a finding that spurred calls for a new large-scale test of a drug used against the infection. Researchers examined 271 throat-tumor samples collected over 20 years ending in 2004 and found that the percentage of oral cancer linked to the human papillomavirus, or HPV, surged to 72 percent from about 16 percent, according to a report released yesterday in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. By 2020, the virus-linked throat tumors — which mostly affected men — will become more common than HPV-caused cervical cancer, the report found.

HPV is known for infecting genitals. The finding that it can spread to the throat and cause cancer may increase pressure on Merck & Co., the second-largest U.S. drugmaker, to conduct large-scale trials to see if its vaccine Gardasil, which wards off cervical cancer in women, also prevents HPV throat infections.

“The burden of cancer caused by HPV is going to shift from women to men in this decade,” Maura Gillison, an oncologist at Ohio State University and study senior author, said in a telephone interview. “What we believe is happening is that the number of sexual partners and exposure to HPV has risen over that same time period.”

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

No Further Study
Pamela Eisele, a spokeswoman for Merck, said the company decided not to move ahead with a big oral cancer study “due to competing research and business priorities.” GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK) has “no plans” to study the company’s competing vaccine Cervarix outside of cervical cancer, Jennifer Armstrong, a company spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.

Gardasil is approved for preventing cervical, vaginal and anal cancers and genital warts, and is recommended for girls and women ages 9 through 26. It is also approved for preventing genital warts and anal cancer in boys and young men of the same ages. Glaxo’s Cervarix is approved for preventing cervical cancer in females ages 9 through 25.

Both vaccines target the HPV strain linked to oral cancer, Gillison said.

HPV-linked throat cancers, or orophyaryngeal cancer, are increasing so rapidly that by 2020 there will be 8,700 U.S. cases, with 7,400 cases in men, versus 7,700 cases of cervical cancer, the study said. Male cases alone will outnumber cervical cancer cases soon after 2020, Gillison said. The Ohio State study is based on tumor samples from several U.S. states.

HPV Infections
Roughly 20 million Americans have genital HPV infections, according to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At least half of sexually active women and men get it at some point in their lives, the CDC says. Most of the time it doesn’t cause health problems.

Until recently, head and neck cancer mainly occurred in older patients and was associated with tobacco and alcohol use. The HPV-linked head and neck cancers, usually of the tonsils, palate or tongue, hit men their 30s, 40s, and 50s, Gillison said. It is unclear why women are affected much less often than men, she said.

The decline in HPV-negative oral cancers mirrors the decline of smoking in the U.S., the study said.

Treatment involving chemotherapy, radiation and sometimes surgery, “is very nasty,” said Gillison. “It can leave people with permanent physical disfigurement, difficulty with speech and swallowing and poor dental health.”

Research Effort
Gillison started researching the oral cancer epidemic more than a decade ago as a fellow at Johns Hopkins University. Another researcher told her about a report from Europe of a case of oral cancer that was HPV positive, she said.

“I started working on it immediately,” she said.

In a 2007 epidemiology study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Gillison and her colleagues found that having a high number of oral or vaginal sex partners are risk factors for HPV-associated throat cancer. The cancer may also be spread by open-mouth kissing, Gillison said in the interview.

“Nobody paid attention to oral HPV infections until 2007,” she said. “We are about 15 years behind in the research” compared with the data on cervical cancer and HPV, she said.

An editorial accompanying the study concluded that trials to see whether vaccines prevent oral cancer “are needed, given that prevention through vaccination will almost certainly be the ultimate solution” to HPV-positive oral cancers.

A key step would be to perform a natural history study that would follow people over a number of years and track in more detail how HPV-oral infections lead to cancer. This could help inform how to design a vaccine trial, Gillison said.

Both vaccines target the HPV strain linked to oral cancer, Gillison said.

HPV Connected to Oral Cancers Too

Source: Chicago Tribune

It’s common knowledge that HPV — or human papillomavirus — is linked with cervical cancer, thanks to the controversy over the vaccine. But far fewer people know that this same sexually transmitted viral strain is connected to oral cancers, according to a new study, recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

For years, clinicians thought these kinds of cancer — affecting the tongue and tonsil areas — were almost exclusively caused by tobacco use, since they mostly struck heavy smokers and drinkers. But according to Dr. Maura Gillison, an oncologist and researcher at Ohio State University, it’s not cigarettes that are the culprit, but oral sex. The good news: Most people with oral HPV will never develop cancer.

Dr. Ezra Cohen, a specialist in head, neck, thyroid and salivary gland cancers at the University of Chicago, helped explain what it all means:

Q. In general, mouth cancers are increasing?

A. Oropharynx cancer is on the rise dramatically. It’s gone up 3 percent a year for the last three decades and will surpass all other sites for head and neck cancers.

Q. And HPV-positive oral cancers?

A. They will surpass cervical cancers within the next three years. It’s only relatively recently that we’ve come to realize the scope of HPV-related cancers.

Q. What have we learned from this study?

A. Quite a lot, actually. It told us about prevalence — that about 7 percent of adults in the U.S. are infected with oral HPV… and that this cancer is a sexually transmitted disease, requiring oral sexual contact. It also explained why we’re seeing an epidemic of oral cancers and why it’s more common in men — who are three times as likely to get HPV-related cancer — and those who have had many sexual partners.

Q. So if oral sex is connected to oral cancers, why are we just seeing an increase now?

A. Because sexual encounters have changed over the last 30 or so years. The age of the first oral sexual encounter has dropped by about a decade and half since the 1980s and the number of people engaging in the practice has increased too. … We think mostly due to the AIDS epidemic and people trying to protect themselves. So, as oral sex became more common, so did oral cancers. The cancers take 20 to 30 years to develop, so sexual practices during your teens and 20s may put you at risk for cancer in your 50s. So those engaging in risky behaviors now may be setting the stage for later.

Q. There are many types of HPV, but only one type is linked to oropharynx cancer?

A. That’s essentially right. HPV-16 is strongly linked with oral cancer. That form was only found in about 1 percent of the people and, of those, less than 15,000 actually develop cancer.

Q. Do we know if the HPV vaccine that is supposed to protect against cervical cancer is also effective against HPV-related oral cancer?

A. Right now we do not know. There are some key immunologic differences between how our bodies respond to infections in the cervic and oral cavity. Nonetheless, we think the vaccines will be protective and they are approved for both females and males. Remember, these are preventative vaccines, so one has to be immunized before exposure to the virus — that is, before sexual contact.

Q. Is there any kind of screening for early detection?

A. No. We are working on that, but right now there is no “pap smear” for HPV-related oropharynx cancer.

Q. What are the symptoms for these oral cancers?

A. Sore throat, difficulty swallowing, a change in your voice or speech. If you have a lump in your neck that doesn’t go away in a week or two — those are all symptoms that you’d want to get evaluated by your doctor.

Q. As someone who has studied all oropharynx cancers for 12 years, what would you like people to know? Most Americans think if they’ve never smoked, it’s one disease they don’t have to worry about. A false sense of security?

A. Most patients with HPV-related oropharynx cancers never smoked. Yes, smoking increases your risk for head and neck cancer and everyone should talk to their doctor about stopping. But even if you have never smoked, you can still get oropharynx cancer, so if you have some worrisome symptoms, get them evaluated.

This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.

February, 2012|Oral Cancer News|

Prevalence of Oral HPV Infection Higher Among Men Than Women

CHICAGO — The overall prevalence of oral human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is approximately 7 percent among men and women ages 14 to 69 years in the United States, while the prevalence among men is higher than among women, according to a study appearing in JAMA. The study is being released early online to coincide with its presentation at the Multidisciplinary Head and Neck Cancer Symposium.

Oral HPV infection is the cause of a subset of oropharyngeal [relating to the mouth and pharynx] squamous cell carcinomas (OSCC).  Human papillomavirus positive OSCC are associated with sexual behavior in contrast to HPV-negative OSCC that are associated with chronic tobacco and alcohol use. At least 90 percent of HPV-positive OSCC are caused by high-risk (or oncogenic) HPV type 16 (HPV-16), and oral infection confers an approximate 50-fold increase in risk for HPV-positive OSCC. The incidence of OSCC has significantly increased over the last 3 decades in several countries, and HPV has been directly implicated as the underlying cause, according to background information in the article. Although oral HPV infection is the cause of a cancer that is increasing in incidence in the United States, little is known regarding the epidemiology of infection.

Maura L. Gillison, M.D., Ph.D., of the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, Columbus, and colleagues examined the  prevalence of oral HPV infection in the United States. The researchers used data from a cross-sectional study as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2009-2010, a statistically representative sample of the U.S. population. Men and women ages 14 to 69 years examined at mobile examination centers were eligible.

Participants (n = 5,579) provided a 30-second oral rinse and gargle with mouthwash. For detection of HPV types, DNA purified from oral exfoliated cells was evaluated via testing methods. The researchers found that the overall prevalence of oral HPV infection was 6.9 percent, and the most prevalent HPV type detected was HPV-16 (1.0 percent). The prevalence of oral HPV infection had peaks in different age ranges, with a first peak in prevalence observed among those 30 to 34 years of age (7.3 percent) and a second, higher peak among those ages 60 to 64 years (11.4 percent). Men had a significantly higher prevalence than women for overall oral HPV infection (10.1 percent vs. 3.6 percent). Prevalence of HPV was higher among current smokers and heavy alcohol drinkers and among former and  current marijuana users.

The authors also found that oral HPV prevalence was associated with several measures of sexual behavior, including higher prevalence among individuals who reported ever having had sex vs. not (7.5 percent vs. 0.9 percent). Prevalence of HPV increased with lifetime or recent number of partners for any kind of sex, vaginal sex, or oral sex.

In analysis inclusive of individuals 14 to 69 years of age, factors independently associated with prevalent oral HPV included age, sex,  lifetime number of sexual partners, and current number of cigarettes smoked per day. The researchers write that their data provide evidence that oral HPV infection is predominantly sexually transmitted. ?Taken together, these data indicate that transmission by casual, nonsexual contact is likely to be unusual.

Our results have important research as well as public health implications. Natural history studies of cervical HPV infection were  essential for the development of public health interventions, such as HPV vaccination to prevent and HPV detection to screen for cervical cancer, they write. Natural history studies of oral HPV infection are therefore necessary to understand the effects of age, sex, and modifiable risk factors (e.g., smoking and sexual behavior) on the incidence and duration of oral HPV infection.

Vaccine efficacy against oral HPV infection is unknown, and therefore vaccination cannot currently be recommended for the primary  prevention of oropharyngeal cancer. Given an analysis of U.S. cancer registry data recently projected that the number of HPV-positive  oropharyngeal cancers diagnosed each year will surpass that of invasive cervical cancers by the year 2020, perhaps such vaccine  trials are warranted. Such trials could inform ongoing discussions regarding the benefits of HPV vaccination for males, given the higher  prevalence of oral HPV infection demonstrated here as well as higher incidence of HPV-positive OSCC among men, the authors conclude.

Editor’s Note: This study was supported by the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, Merck, John and Nina Cassils, and the Intramural Research Program of the National Cancer Institute. All authors have completed and submitted the ICMJE Form for Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest. Dr. Gillison is the principal investigator of the unrestricted grant from Merck in support of this study and has been a consultant to Merck and GlaxoSmithKline. No other disclosures were reported. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, etc.

This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.

January, 2012|Oral Cancer News|

Oral Sex Cancer Virus More Common in Men Than Women, Study Finds

Source: Bloomberg.com

About 10 percent of men and 3.6 percent of women are orally infected with human papillomavirus, which is acquired through oral sex and can cause cancer.

There are two peaks in the age people are infected — 30 to 34 and 60 to 64, according to the study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The virus is linked to throat cancer, and is becoming a more common cause of the disease as Americans quit smoking.

The virus, called HPV, is the most-common sexually transmitted virus in the U.S., where half the population will be infected at some time in their lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is known to cause cervical, vulvar, vaginal, penile and anal cancer. The higher HPV infection rate in men explains why their head and neck cancer rates are greater, said Maura Gillison, a professor at the Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus.

“This provides pretty strong evidence that the higher infection rate is the reason why,” said Gillison, the study’s lead author, in a telephone interview. “This is a jumping board for additional research.”

Besides sex, other demographics associated with oral HPV infection include age, lifetime number of sex partners, and the number of cigarettes smoked each day.

The research is the first population-based study to examine how many men and women were infected, Gillison said.

Existing Vaccines

Though Merck & Co.’s Gardasil and GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK)’s Cervarix target genital HPV, it’s unknown whether the vaccines will protect against oral infections as well.

Gardasil is approved for preventing cervical, vaginal and anal cancers and genital warts, and is recommended for girls and women 9 to 26 years old. It’s also approved for genital warts and anal cancer in boys and men of the same ages. Cervarix is approved for preventing cervical cancer in females 9 to 25.

In places like Australia, where 80 percent of girls have been vaccinated, the lowered prevalence of the virus may be enough to protect men against oral HPV infection, Gillison said. Further research needs to be done to see if vaccination will help lower oral HPV infection rates, she said. Not enough people in the U.S. are vaccinated to get a benefit, she said.

“We have a cancer that occurs largely among men and there’s no screening or preventive strategy,” Gillison said. It’s difficult to sample the site in the throat where the virus makes its home, she said.

Among the 2,483 men who participated in the study conducted in 2009 and 2010, 264 had an oral HPV infection. Of the 2,385 women, 88 had an oral infection, the study showed.

The infection was contracted by about 7 percent of those ages 30 to 34 and 11 percent of those 60 to 64, according to the study.

This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.

January, 2012|Oral Cancer News|

Calls for teenage boys to be vaccinated against sexually transmitted virus after throat cancer cases double in UK

Source: www.dailymail.co.uk
Author: Charles Walford

Boys must be immunised against the most common sexually transmitted virus, health experts have said. The call comes after figures revealed an alarming rise in cancer linked to oral sex in young men.

Cases of throat cancer have more than doubled to more than 1,000 a year since the mid-1990s. Previously the figure had been stable for many years. More than 70 per cent of cases are caused by human papilloma virus, compared with less than a third a decade ago.

HPV, which can be transmitted during sex and open-mouth kissing, is the main cause of cervical cancer in women, with almost 3,000 women a year in the UK affected.

Since 2008 all girls aged 12 to 13 in the UK have been offered a vaccination to protect them from HPV. The decision not to give it to boys too was heavily criticised at the time. Now specialists are urging the Department of Health to review its immunisation programme and offer boys the vaccine too, the Independent reports. They say this would not only ensure both sexes are protected against throat cancer, but it would help reduce the risk of cervical cancer in girls and of other cancers caused by HPV.

Research suggests boys are more prone to get throat cancer from oral sex because the virus is found in higher concentrations in the female genital tract. Cancer typically takes 20 to 30 years to develop and the rise in HPV-related throat cancer is being seen as the legacy of the sexual revolution that began in the 1960s.

The typical victim has also changed from older patients in lower socio-economic groups who smoked to those who are younger and middle class.

Experts say oral sex is seen by teenagers as safer than sexual intercourse as carrying no risk of pregnancy or infections.

The Department of Health requested the latest figures from Professor Hisham Mehanna, director of the Institute of Head and Neck Studies in Coventry, who has surveyed the incidence of HPV-related oropharyngeal (throat) cancer in the UK and other countries.

Professor Mehanna said: ‘We are experiencing a very significant rise in oropharyngeal cancer. It used to be rare in our practice – now it is the most common [head and neck] cancer we see. All the studies show there is a strong association with oral sex.’ He added: ‘What is striking about the cancer is that we are seeing it in younger patients. We regularly get people of 45 and sometimes in their 30s.

‘Oropharyngeal cancer was stable until 1996 – then it very definitely took off. This tumour takes 20 to 30 years to develop – it is probably linked to the sexual revolution.’

In the mid-2000s The Department of Health decided to limit HPV vaccination to girls on the basis of the best estimates of HPV-related cancers at the time. But many argued that giving it to boys would reduce the prevalence of the infection by increasing ‘herd’ immunity, offer added protection to girls, and prevent genital warts and anal cancer in both sexes. The department said vaccinating boys could not be justified on cost-benefit grounds – but that was before the scale of the rise in HPV-related throat cancer was known.

‘They asked for my data so they can look again at their assessment. There is definitely enough evidence to warrant looking at it again. The question is whether the new figures make it cost-effective [to extend the vaccination to boys].’

Professor Andy Hall, chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, said he had not seen the latest figures. ‘Clearly a change in cancer is always a concern,’ he said.

Professor David Salisbury, director of immunisation at the Department of Health, said: ‘We asked the Health Protection Agency to look at HPV-related oral and throat cancers in 2011. ‘The conclusions continued to support the vaccination of females but not males. Any new information would be considered by the JCVI.’

January, 2012|Oral Cancer News|