In a world where gender equality is frequently near the top of the list of our social agendas, there appears to be some bias when it comes to oral cancer. It seems that men are at an especially high risk for developing oral cancer as a result of oral sex. Recent studies have found acquiring certain sexually transmitted viral infections may increase the risk for oral cancer. According to these scientists, the human papilloma virus or HPV is the most common catalyst for the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) which cause oral cancer.
So contrary to what most people believe, the “leading cause” of oral cancer is oral sex, according to CBSnews.com. And those who have oral sex with multiple partners on a regular basis are especially likely to develop oral cancer as the result of sexually transmitted HPV infections that are transmitted by saliva. CBSnews.com also reported that 64 percent of oral, neck and head cancers are the result of oral sex.
This touchy and often taboo topic is not widely discussed in dental offices or at home so it is important for people to at least be aware of the risks and ramifications of oral sex as it relates to oral cancer. According to recent news reports, oral sex is even more likely to cause cancer than smoking. According to NHS Choices, a UK-based organization devoted to living well, doctors previously assumed that alcohol and chewing tobacco were the most common causes of oral cancer. It now appears that HPV has been implicated as the most prominent cause.
The best thing we as parents can do to reduce this problem is to educate our teenage children about the dangers of oral sex with regard to its potential for causing future oral cancers. More importantly we also need to seriously consider giving the HPV vaccine to not just our daughters (HPV is implicated in cervical cancer) but our sons too to protect them from HPV related oral cancers.
We need to understand that the statistics about oral sex and cancer are sobering, and that more people die from oral cancer than lung cancer. Oral cancer presently kills one person per hour, meaning that 24 people die of oral cancer each day. At our office, Mark W Langberg, DDS, MAGD, PC, we perform oral cancer examinations at each hygiene visit, checking for the characteristic red or white patches on your mouth’s lining or your tongue. If we see or feel a suspicious lesion, we will either do a cytology “brush test” in our office or refer you to an oral surgeon for evaluation and possible biopsy. Early detection is essential, as surgical treatment of these lesions can be disfiguring and life changing. Make absolutely sure your dentist is doing frequent oral cancer screenings, and if you are not sure, ask him or her. And please know that we are always available to help if you choose!
Until next time,
Dr. Mark W. Langberg, DDS, MAGD
26206 West 12 Mile Road, Suite 303
Southfield, MI 48034