Does Oral Sex And HPV Increase My Risks Of Mouth & Throat Cancer?


Patient Education

Does Oral Sex And HPV Increase My Risks Of Mouth & Throat Cancer?

Are you curious about the potential risks of oral sex, human papillomavirus (HPV) and its connection to mouth and throat cancer? Have your questions answered by reading this article which delves into the intriguing link between oral sex, HPV, and the increased risk of developing cancer in the oral and throat regions. By exploring this important topic, we hope to empower you with knowledge and foster a greater understanding of the impact that oral sex and HPV can have on your health. Dr. Tan Chee Seng, a Head and Neck cancer specialist at OncoCare Cancer Centre, possesses extensive experience as a Senior Medical Oncologist at OncoCare Singapore. With a clinical focus on lung/thoracic and head/neck cancers, Dr. Tan has extensive experience in this area and can provide evidence-based insights on the correlation between oral sex, HPV, and the heightened risks of mouth and throat cancer. So, let's embark on this insightful journey together and uncover the facts about oral sex, HPV, and their potential role in mouth and throat cancer.

How Does Oral Sex Transmit HPV?

Engaging in oral sex, an intimate act of foreplay to pleasure a partner, carries the potential risk of transmitting HPV. It is crucial to understand that while oral sex itself does not directly cause throat cancer, it can facilitate the transmission of HPV. Among the vast array of HPV strains, approximately 40 types can be transmitted through direct sexual contact, encompassing the mouth and throat. Transmission of oral HPV primarily occurs through oral sex or other plausible means.

Understanding HPV And Its Link To Cancer

HPV, a viral infection known for causing skin growths or warts, is the most prevalent sexually transmitted infection worldwide. Among the numerous types of HPV, approximately 40 can be transmitted through sexual contact, affecting not only the genital areas but also the mouth and throat. Oral HPV transmission can occur through oral sex or other potential routes of transmission. When HPV infects the mouth and throat, it can contribute to the development of oropharyngeal cancer, encompassing cancers in the back of the throat, base of the tongue, and tonsils.

It is important to note that HPV-related throat and mouth cancers typically exhibit a less aggressive nature compared to cancers in these regions unrelated to HPV. However, it is crucial to understand that an HPV infection can potentially progress to cancer, although it often takes several years for cancer to manifest following the initial infection.

Signs And Symptoms of Mouth & Throat Cancer

Recognising the signs and symptoms associated with mouth and throat cancer is essential for early detection and timely treatment. While these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions, it is important to consult with a cancer doctor in Singapore with subspecialty in head and neck cancers from a reputable clinic such as Oncocare if any of the following persist for more than two weeks:

  • Sores in the mouth or on the lips that do not heal
  • Patches of red or white tissue inside the mouth
  • Thickening or lumps in the cheek, lip, mouth, neck, or throat
  • Persistent sore throat or sensation of a ticklish throat
  • Change in voice or hoarseness
  • Numbness in the mouth or tongue
  • Mouth pain or bleeding
  • Difficulty in moving the mouth, swallowing, or chewing
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Changes in speech patterns
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite

Regular dental check-ups and oral cancer screenings play a crucial role in the early detection of mouth and throat cancer. By staying proactive and vigilant, you increase your chances of successful treatment outcomes.

You can book an appointment with Nose & Throat Cancer specialists, Dr Tan Chee Seng and Dr Leong Swan Swan at OncoCare via our app.

Prevention And Protection

Prevention is key when it comes to HPV-related cancers. Vaccination against HPV is highly recommended as a preventive measure, particularly for individuals who have not been previously exposed to the virus. HPV vaccination can significantly reduce the risk of developing HPV-related cancers, including those affecting the mouth and throat. Safe sex practices, such as consistent condom use and limiting the number of sexual partners, can also help reduce the risk of HPV transmission. Open and honest communication with your partner about sexual health is essential for ensuring mutual protection.

Importance Of Screening and Early Detection

At OncoCare, we emphasise the significance of regular screenings for mouth and throat cancer. Our experienced team of cancer specialists in Singapore is dedicated to providing comprehensive care and early intervention.

Treatment of mouth, nose and throat cancers may vary depending on the specific type and stage of the cancer. It may involve surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and/or immunotherapy. Often time more than 1 modalities are required. For more information on the risks of mouth and throat cancer, learn more at our head and neck cancer page.

You should take a proactive step towards maintaining your oral health and detecting any abnormalities at an early stage. Stay informed, take charge of your well-being, and consult with our dedicated cancer specialists at OncoCare for personalised care and guidance.

“Expert knowledge means better care for cancer”

Written by:

Dr Tan Chee Seng

MBBS (Singapore)

MRCP (United Kingdom)

Dr Leong Swan Swan

MBBS (Singapore)

M.Med (Singapore)

MRCP (United Kingdom)

FAMS (Medical Oncology)