Rise in throat cancer cases blamed on oral sex
The rise in oropharyngeal cancer, which some have called an epidemic, has been caused by the increase in oral sex, according to Professor Hisham Mehanna, a leading surgeon from the Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences at the University of Birmingham.
The main risk factor for the disease, which is now more common in the UK and the US than cervical cancer, is the transmission of the human papillomavirus (HPV) during oral sex.
Those who have six or more lifetime oral-sex partners are 8.5 times more likely to develop oropharyngeal cancer than those who do not practice oral sex, says Mehanna.
To combat the rise, he recommends boys and girls receive their HPV vaccine, typically in Year 8.
"Over the past two decades, there has been a rapid increase in throat cancer in the west, to the extent that some have called it an epidemic," said Professor Mehanna, writing in The Conversation.
"The main cause of this cancer is the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is also the main cause of cancer of the cervix. Oropharyngeal cancer has now become more common than cervical cancer in the US and the UK.
"HPV is sexually transmitted. For oropharyngeal cancer, the main risk factor is the number of lifetime sexual partners, especially oral sex. Those with six or more lifetime oral-sex partners are 8.5 times more likely to develop oropharyngeal cancer than those who do not practise oral sex."