Despite a decline in most head and neck cancers during the past decade, the incidence of a particular form of throat cancer is rising, according to a recent report in the British Medical Journal. The type of cancer identified is related to the human papilloma virus (HPV). Researchers say that sexual transmission of HPV may explain the increase. If that’s true, then add throat cancer – and cervical cancer – as a potentially deadly consequence of HPV infection.
The particular cancer of concern is esophageal squamous cell cancer, which is increasing only in the developed world. In the U.S., cases increased by 22% between 1999 and 2006. The risk of developing throat cancer is directly tied to the level of sexual activity. Risk is increased in those with a history of six or more lifetime sexual partners, four or more lifetime oral sex partners, and for men, an earlier start of sexual intercourse. >> HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease. More than 100 strains of HPV are known to exist, 30-40 of which are sexually transmitted. Virtually any skin to skin contact, oral, genital or anal can transmit the virus. The virus is usually cleared by the immune system within 12-18 months and causes no further harm. But certain high-risk strains may not clear and cause pre cancerous lesions on the cervix. A Pap smear can detect these changes and can lead to early and effective treatment.
Source: Edward C. Geehr, M.D., Lifescript Chief Medical Officer
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