Risks of HPV-Oral cancer in spouses or partners of those infected

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Michael Douglas put himself in the spotlight this past weekend, with the claim that his throat cancer was caused by oral sex, and not smoking and drinking as he had speculated previously. On a related note, a new study suggests that throat cancers that result from the human papillomavirus (HPV) do not put domestic partners at an elevated risk of the infection or cancer.

The study Human Oral Papillomavirus Transmission in Partners Over Time included 166 individuals with oropharyngeal cancer (cancer of the throat) from HPV, mostly men, and 94 spouses or partners. In the individuals with cancer, 65 percent tested positive for oral HPV DNA. However, after one year of treatment, that number fell to 6 percent. In the partners and spouses involved in the study, five percent of the women tested positive for oral HPV DNA, which is similar to its prevalence in the general population according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Because there were only six male partners involved in the study, valid comparisons could not be made with the general population.

Dr. Gypsyamber D Souza highlights the fact that Many people are infected but are able to clear those infections, but also stresses that Having cervical cancer and cervical precancer suggests a long-term cervical HPV infection, and oral sex on someone with a genital HPV infection is known to be a risk factor for transmission of HPV to the mouth.

ACSH s Ariel Savransky adds, The hype generating around Michael Douglas right now makes it a really good time to highlight the importance of getting the HPV vaccine, and it also further emphasizes that boys should be getting this vaccine as well, especially with the rates of HPV-associated cancers rising.