Oral sex is sexual activity involving the stimulation of the genitalia of a sex partner by the use of the mouth, tongue, teeth or throat.
Persons who have had six or more partners on whom they’ve practiced unprotected oral sex are eight times more likely than those who have not had oral sex to develop the Human
Papilloma Virus, they are likely to develop mouth and throat cancers, cancer of the tonsils, tongue, and aside from the Human papilloma virus, sexually transmitted infections such as herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia contracted through oral sex can also lead to cancers of the mouth
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted disease that can cause genital warts or present itself without symptoms. If left untreated, it can also cause cancers of the cervix, anus, penis, vulva, vagina and head and neck cancers.
Experts have known for years that the main risk factors for oral cancer are drinking alcohol and smoking or chewing tobacco. But there is growing evidence that infection in the mouth with Human papilloma virus is a major cause of oral cancer.
Around 25% of mouth and 35% of throat cancers are Human papilloma virus related but the exact figures vary between different studies, possibly due to different ways of testing for the virus or varying levels of smoking and other risk factors.
Detecting the Human papilloma virus in a sample of people who have oral cancer does not mean that HPV caused the cancer. The virus becomes part of the genetic material of the cancer cells, triggering them to grow.
Mouth and throat cancer, called oropharynx cancer, used to be a disease seen most commonly in elderly persons. Tobacco smoking and alcohol use were known to be the leading causes of orpharyngeal cancer. Today, oral sex is listed as the leading cause of cancer of the mouth and throat.
Majority of those who are being diagnosed with the Human papilloma virus -related oropharyngeal cancers are men. This leads researchers to wonder if the vaccine against Human papilloma virus that is recommended for teenage girls may be affording that gender with protection against oropharyngeal cancer, as well as the currently known protection against cervical cancer.
Researchers have noted a marked drop in non-Human papilloma virus related mouth and throat cancers since the American population has begun to turn away from tobacco smoking. The oropharyngeal cancer most commonly affects the tonsils, palate, base of the tongue and the upper throat. Whereas this type of cancer was previously seen most often in aged patients, it is now more common at younger ages.
How Human Papilloma Virus causes cancer
Human Papilloma Virus does not directly give you cancer but it causes changes in the cells it has infected for example, in the throat or cervix, and these cells can then become cancerous.
Very few people infected with Human papilloma virus will develop cancer. In 90% of cases the infection is cleared naturally by the body within two years.
However, people who smoke are much less likely to clear the virus from their body. This is because smoking damages special protective cells in the skin called immune surveillance cells, allowing the virus to persist. Cervical and vulvar cancer is rare in women who don’t smoke, unless they have some other cause of immunosuppression .
If cell changes do happen, it can take a long time even decades. Human papilloma virus related oral cancers seem to respond better to treatment than non-HPV-related oral cancers. A regular checkup with a dentist will help detect malignancies in the mouth.