Oral Sex and Throat Cancer

Oral Sex and Throat Cancer

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  • Dr. Amit Chakraborty

    Cancer Surgeon

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As a cancer patient or a family member, you might have come across the claim that oral sex is now the leading risk factor for throat cancer. This statement has generated quite a controversy, with some sources supporting it while others refuting it. 

In this article, we will delve into the topic to determine whether this claim is a myth or a fact and provide you with the information you need to make informed decisions about your health.

What is Throat Cancer?

Throat cancer refers to malignant tumors that develop in the throat (pharynx), voice box (larynx), or tonsils. There are different types of throat cancer, such as squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, and lymphoma. 

Some common risk factors associated with throat cancer include tobacco use, excessive alcohol consumption, poor nutrition, exposure to certain chemicals, and infections like human papillomavirus (HPV).

Symptoms of throat cancer may include a persistent sore throat, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, swollen lymph nodes, unexplained weight loss, and ear pain. Early detection and treatment are crucial for improving the chances of recovery and minimizing complications.

The Connection Between Oral Sex and Throat Cancer

The primary link between oral sex and throat cancer is the transmission of HPV, a common sexually transmitted infection. Certain strains of HPV, particularly HPV-16, are known to cause cancers in the head and neck region. 

Research has shown that individuals who engage in oral sex have a higher risk of developing HPV-positive throat cancer compared to those who don’t.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that the incidence of HPV-related throat cancer has significantly increased over the past few decades, making it one of the fastest-growing types of cancer in the United States. 

However, it’s important to note that not everyone who engages in oral sex or contracts HPV will develop throat cancer. The risk depends on various factors, such as the individual’s immune system, genetic predisposition, and exposure to other carcinogens.

Other Risk Factors for Throat Cancer

While oral sex and HPV infection are significant risk factors for throat cancer, they are not the only ones. Other risks include:

  • Tobacco use: Smoking or using smokeless tobacco significantly increases the risk of throat cancer.
  • Alcohol consumption: Excessive alcohol consumption is another major risk factor.
  • Age and gender: Throat cancer is more common in men and individuals aged 50 and older.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): Chronic acid reflux can cause irritation and inflammation, increasing the risk of throat cancer.

Also, Read- Is Throat Cancer Curable?

Prevention and Treatment

To reduce the risk of throat cancer, consider the following preventive measures:

  • Practice safe sex: Using condoms or dental dams during oral sex can help reduce the risk of HPV transmission.
  • Get vaccinated: The HPV vaccine is recommended for both males and females to protect against certain strains of the virus.
  • Quit smoking: Eliminating tobacco use dramatically reduces the risk of throat cancer.
  • Limit alcohol intake: Drink alcohol in moderation or avoid it altogether.
  • Eat a healthy diet: Consuming fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help lower cancer risk.

Treatment options for throat cancer depend on factors like the stage of the cancer, its location, and the patient’s overall health. Common treatments include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and targeted therapy.



In conclusion, while oral sex is a significant risk factor for throat cancer due to the possible transmission of HPV, it is not the sole cause. Other risk factors, such as tobacco use and alcohol consumption, also play a significant role. 

By understanding these risks and taking preventive measures, you can reduce your chances of developing throat cancer. If you have concerns about your risk, consult with an oral cancer surgeon in Mumbai for guidance and support.

  • About Author

    Dr. Amit Chakraborty

    Cancer Surgeon

Dr. Amit Chakraborty is a Surgical Oncologist in Girgaon, Mumbai and has an experience of 15 years in this field. He is a well known cancer specialist with an expertise in diagnosing and treating head and neck cancer.

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