Can You Really Get Mouth Cancer from Oral Sex?
Cancers today are still very common. Research indicates that one of the oral cancer causes is having oral sex. Although there are other possible causes, such as smoking and drinking, there is strong evidence that getting HPV in the mouth can lead to some people getting throat cancer.
The truth is that oral sex is not believed to be the actual cause of oral cancer – at least not directly. According to Medical News Today, what actually happens is that the HPV virus causes changes in the cells that it infects.
The changes affect the genetic material in the cells so that it produces more infected cells. Over time, the infected cells may become cancerous – but not necessarily. Most people who have the infection are not apt to get oral cancer. The body will often remove the HPV infection in about 90 percent of the cases, and it will do it within two years.
The Risk Factors
Several risk factors will increase your chances of getting throat or neck cancer from oral sex. The primary factor is having oral sex with multiple partners. Having six oral sex partners raises your risk by more than three times. The more partners you have, the more likely it is that you will get a throat or neck cancer.
Men are more likely to develop an HPV-related throat cancer than women. The Cleveland Clinic says that this may be because women have a natural immunological response to it. Men do not have this response.
HPV and Oral Cancer
In an article by the New York Post, oral cancer is on the rise, largely because incidents of HPV are increasing. In tests of men with cancer of the mouth, those who had oral sex with more than 10 women had a rate of 14.4 percent of getting HPV. Of the people who had oral cancer, 70 percent of them also had HPV.
Signs of Oral Cancer
Catching throat cancer early is important – just like for any other cancer. The sooner it is detected, the sooner treatment can be initiated – and the less time it has a chance to spread.
There are several throat cancer symptoms in men. Mayo Clinic reveals that when you have cancer of the throat you may have: difficulty swallowing, a frequent cough, a sore throat, pain in your ear, changes in your voice, a sore or lump that will not heal, and possible weight loss.
Oral HPV Symptoms
When you get HPV, which is an STD, usually from vaginal, oral, or anal sex, it can remain inactive for weeks to years. Some people, the Oral Cancer Foundation says, never have any visible symptoms. Many more people have it than are aware of it.
Testing positive for HPV does not at all indicate that one partner is having a sexual relationship on the side. HPV can remain dormant for decades. It is quite possible that the other partner has it but never knew it. The CDC reveals that as many as 80 percent of people in the United States will get it at some time during their life. Currently, it is believed that about 79 million people have HPV now.
Reducing the Risk
The risk of developing oral cancer can be reduced by taking some precautions, which means reducing your risk of getting HPV. The first one is to have just one sex partner for a lifetime or limit yourself to one partner who only has sex with you. Another way to cut down the risk is to use condoms carefully, but they do not totally eliminate the risk. A third measure is to get an HPV vaccine.
Another way to reduce your risk is to stop smoking, which can also cause oral cancers. Drink alcohol only in moderation or not at all. Eating more fruits and vegetables may also reduce your risk, because of the many antioxidants in them.
Tests for HPV have not yet been developed that are accurate, and the percentage of people who will be actually harmed by it is rather small. Because of the lower rates of incidence of this type of cancer, money for research to detect HPV is limited, and it may be some time before there are any better tests available.
Discovering It Early
In most cases, the first one to detect the symptoms of oral cancer is usually the dentist. A dentist is trained to be able to recognize symptoms of oral cancer, and may even notice it before you do. This is clearly one advantage of going to a dentist for regular checkups.
During the exam, the dentist will feel your neck and throat for lumps. Throat cancers are often first discovered as lumps in the throat – in swollen lymph nodes. This type of cancer is often not diagnosed until it is already advanced. It is also the fastest growing cancer in men who are between 25 and 55. It usually responds well to surgery and radiation.
If you want to be checked for mouth and throat cancer, you can visit the offices of Dr. Kumar T. Vadivel, DDS, FDS RCS, MS, a Board-certified Periodontist. While he is at it, he can also perform other dental services that can help you retain a great smile. If you live in the Carrollton, TX or Grapevine, TX areas, you can contact his office today at 214-731-0123, for a consultation or treatment.