Doctors say that changing sexual behaviors -- earlier sex, more partners and especially oral sex -- are contributing to a new epidemic of orpharyngeal squamous cell cancers, those of the throat, tonsils and base of the tongue.
UPDATE 8/16/12: Planned Parenthood's Oral Sex Push Bad: Fed Report
UPDATE 2/20/11: "The rise in oral cancer in the US is predominantly among young white males"
UPDATE 1/29/11: "60 to 70% of all tonsil cancers in the U.S. are HPV-related"
UPDATE 11/4/10: Oral Sex is 'Entry Drug' to Everything-sex
-- From "Oral Sex Linked to Rise in Men's Throat Cancer" by Susan Donaldson James, ABC News 10/20/10
Two decades ago, about 20 percent of all oral cancers were HPV-related, but today that number is more than 50 percent, according to studies published by the American Association for Cancer Research.
Each year, more than 30,000 new cases of cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx are diagnosed, and more than 8,000 people die from oral cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
HPV is the most common sexually-transmitted infection. Those who are infected often have no symptoms and pass it on to their partners through genital contact during vaginal and anal sex. It can also be transmitted during oral sex and, more rarely, during deep kissing through saliva.
HPV can also cause cancers of the vulva, vagina, penis and anus, and there is some evidence it is associated with esophageal and lung cancers.
Very little HPV was seen until the 1980s. "It was very rare in our archives," said Cullen. "But each year we looked, it was more prevalent. Why, no one is really sure."
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Click headlines below for previous articles:
Oral Sex Is the New Goodnight Kiss
Planned Parenthood Says Plan to Get Sexual Disease
"Performing Oral Sex is Not Without Risks"
Swedish Study Shows Oral Sex Causes Cancer
Oral Sex Causes Cancer
Rare Throat Cancer Linked to Oral Sex