Oral sex is far from a safe occupation with its own risk factors. In order not to be exposed to dangers, it is worth knowing about them and preventing unpleasant consequences. According to recent studies, one of the risk factors is the human papillomavirus (HPV).
Changing sexual habits – a frequent change of partners, the growing popularity of oral sex – increases the risks of the disease. The number of cancer of the oropharynx caused by the human papillomavirus has increased significantly over the past 20 years.
HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted viruses. As you know, the human papillomavirus significantly affects the appearance of cervical cancer. HPV can affect the appearance of cancer of the organs of the female reproductive system, anal canal, penis, and to a large extent on oncology of the oropharynx. Recently, doctors have been worried about the increasing incidence of cancer in the mouth and throat. It is known that this is influenced by the growing popularity of oral sex.
“Almost 70% of patients with tonsil cancer have a human papillomavirus in their tumor, which is 7 times more than in the 1970s. As stated earlier, the virus spreads during oral sex. Of course, the number of partners in an intimate life also increases the risks of morbidity, ”says Ilkka Räisänen, gynecologist and oncologist at the clinic .
How does the virus cause cancer?
Not all types of human papillomavirus lead to oncology. More than 100 types of HPV are known. 2 types of human papillomavirus can lead to oncology; HPV 16 and HPV 18 (HPV16 and HPV18). Other types of HPV can cause benign diseases, but in turn they are very unpleasant: changes in the skin and mucous membranes, for example, condylomas.
Gynecological cancers caused by the human papillomavirus and their initial stage are checked by systematically taking the PAP test (Pap test). In addition, it is possible to conduct high-risk HPV tests. A routine study on HPV of the mucous membranes of the oral region does not yet exist.
“To determine the level of HPV in saliva, a saliva test is performed. However, the result of such testing is not absolute. A person may have HPV, despite the fact that the test result does not show its presence, and a high HPV does not mean the presence of cancer is necessary, ” explains oncologist at the Dokrates Clinic Maigo Riener.
“Many countries have launched programs to vaccinate girls and boys against human papillomavirus. In Finland, vaccination is only for adolescent girls. I hope that in the near future they will begin to vaccinate boys. Over time, a vaccination measure would have a positive effect on unvaccinated people, ” says Ilkka Raisanen.
How dangerous is pharyngeal and oral cancer?
Like all other types of cancer, oropharyngeal cancer has the property of spreading throughout the body, which can lead to the death of the patient.
“The prognosis for oncology of the mouth has always been quite poor, but if the disease can be detected at an early stage , the prognosis is significantly improved. Therefore, changes in the oral mucosa that do not pass within 2-3 weeks should be shown to a specialist. The sooner the patient receives treatment, the better the patient’s prognosis. Pharyngeal cancer, in which HPV is detected, has better predictions than pharyngeal cancer without HPV, ” says Maigo Riener.
How to protect yourself?
In 80% of cases of oral cancer, risk factors are smoking and excessive drinking. Snuff lovers increase the risk of oral cancer by 3 times.
Thorough oral hygiene, a healthy and varied diet, smoking cessation and limited alcohol consumption are the best prevention of oncology of the mouth and throat. Unprotected sex with different partners should also be avoided.
According to studies, the risk of contracting HPV is very low in the presence of one sexual partner. The more partners, the higher the risk. The development of inflammation against the background of HPV in oncology is not common, but you should not take the extra risk. You need to better protect yourself during sex, including oral sex.