Throat Cancer and Sexual Activity

Are You At Risk?

Definition of HPV

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is an infection that is passed between people through skin-to-skin contact. There are more than 100 varieties of HPV, but most emphasis is given to the 40 varieties that affect the genitals, mouth, or throat and that are passed through sexual contact.

Causes for HPV

Most people get HPV through direct sexual contact or oral sex. Since HPV is a skin-to-skin infection, intercourse isn’t required to contract the infection. The type of HPV that is found most often with Throat cancer patients with multiple partners is HPV 16.

Risk factors

Unprotected sex with someone who is HPV positive.

Higher risk for those without vaccination.

6 or more oral sex partners

Smoking because regular, long-term, heavy smokers are 20 times more likely to develop some type of throat cancer compared to non-smokers. People who smoke are much less likely to clear the virus from their body. This is because smoking damages special protective cells in the skin called immune surveillance cells, allowing the virus to persist

Also alcohol because heavy, chronic alcohol consumption, particularly spirits, also raises the risk of developing throat cancer

Prevalence peaked in the 30-34 and 60-64 age groups

Currently, there is very little research that has looked at the possible risks from giving oral sex to a man compared to giving oral sex to a woman. But we do know that HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer is twice as common in men than women, and is most common in heterosexual men in their 40s and 50s (compared to the rates in homosexual men).