More and more patients develop oral pharyngeal cancer as a result of infection with Human Papillomavirus (HPV). This has resulted in a new study by the Asklepios Klinik St. Georg in Hamburg. Particularly affected are people in large cities and metropolitan areas. The main cause of this is apparently oral sex.
The virus, which until now has been known mainly from cervix cancer, is transmitted through sexual contacts. “It’s safe to assume that people who have many sexual partners and practice oral sex in their lifetime are at a much greater risk of developing oropharyngeal cancer – at least as long as the HP virus is not stopped by vaccines “, reports Professor Jens Meyer, head of the ENT department at the Asklepios Klinik St. Georg in Hamburg and head of the study.
On average, his patients are 60 years old – both men and women. 79 percent of the cancer patients he examined in Hamburg are HPV-positive. “This is a disproportionately high proportion in the global comparison and gives cause for concern,” says the specialist for head and neck surgery. This confirms the long-held belief in the medical community that the HP virus is directly responsible for the development of oropharyngeal cancer.
Above all, it is new that smoking or excessive alcohol consumption is not the main risk for a mouth and throat cancer, but an infection with HPV and transmission through sexual contacts. The disease became more widely known in 2013 when US actor Michael Douglas said in an interview with the Guardian: “This particular type of cancer that I have is caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) I caught myself in cunnilingus. ”
“Often, the expired cancerous HPV infection is not detected in the histological examination when diagnosed with oropharyngeal cancer, and the true, silent infection is at least 10-15 years old,” explains Professor Mathias Vierbuchen, head of pathology in the Asklepios Clinic St. Georg.
Therefore, besides vaccination, it is so important to treat the tumour in a good time. “If the tumour is recognized and treated properly, the chances of recovery and survival appear to be greater than those of head and neck cancer that are not triggered by HPV,” says Professor Meyer.