A common virus, believed to be transmitted during oral sex, is the cause of a rare throat cancer in both men and women … Patients whose blood or saliva samples indicated that they had prior HPV infection were 32 times more likely to develop oropharnygeal cancer … those people who had had more than six oral sex partners were 8.6 times more likely to develop the HPV-linked cancer..
The public health implications of our findings are underscored by the annual increases in the incidence of tonsillar and base-of-tongue cancers in the United States since 1973. The widespread oral sexual practices among adolescents may be a contributing factor in this increase. Our results and those of other studies provide a rationale for HPV vaccination in both boys and girls â€” since oropharyngeal cancers occur in men and women. If vaccination is as effective in preventing oral HPV-16 infection as it is in preventing cervical infection, a substantial reduction in the incidence of oropharyngeal cancer in vaccinated populations would provide the ultimate evidence of causality.