Oral sex can lead to oral cancer? Holy crap!!!

I am going to make this one short and sweet (well, not so much sweet but, to the point)!  There has been a lot of recent literature that makes a statement that is hard to swallow, directly relating oral sex to oral cancer later in life.  I heard it mentioned by one of the Otolarygologists (basically an ENT – ears, nose, throat surgeon) that I work with talk discussing a patient and the fact that he has oral cancer requiring complete resection of his mouth, including a removal of his mandible (jaw bone) requiring it to be replaced with part of his leg bone, all because he was at high risk due to over 5 partners of oral sex.  YOWZA!!!  I had no idea that this was a risk factor!!

I heard it discussed on Howard Stern the next morning, but I wanted to clarify a couple of things because on Howard Stern, they thought that it was only men giving oral sex to woman that put them at increased risk for oral cancer.  That is true, but the same is for women who have more than 5 oral sex partners.  And it has nothing to do with anything that you can see on the external genitalia.  5 oral sex partners is not a lot, I mean if you are 65 and reading this you will think that sounds whorish, but if you are 18 you are thinking that number is nothing.

The reason?
Its HPV (human papilloma virus)!  Over 80 types of HPV have been found thus far, and only two of these 80 strains cause genital warts, and 4 of the strains cause cancer, otherwise it is virtually undetectable.  Women get checked yearly through pap smears, HPV causes cellular dysplagia and can be seen under a microscope, but it is very difficult to get accurate samples from men, due to the length of their urethras.  The oral mucosa is a lot like the vagina and cervix, BUT smoking and drinking actually make it easier for the HPV to invade the cells of the oral mucosa.

And, it isn’t to say that you will definitely get oral cancer if you have more than 5 partners, but it is something to talk to your HCP about and be aware of.  As well, if you are not in a committed relationship, it is something to think about and keep in the back of your mind (“is this guy/girl worth the risk….?  Hmmmm”)  And, whilst I’m being a little tongue in cheek here, it is something to think about!!  And, for those of us that the damage is already done?  Oh well, lay off the booze and oral tobacco and hope and pray for the best!!   
Yours in Good Health
B

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