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Michael Douglas developed tongue cancer from oral sex
In an interview with a British newspaper, actor Michael Douglas explains that his surviving cancer can be attributed to oral sex. "Without becoming too specific, this particular cancer is caused by HPV (human papillomavirus), which comes from cunnilingus," said the 68-year-old. Douglas originally thought that the stress caused by his son's prison sentence was responsible for the illness. "But yes, it is a sexually transmitted disease that caused tongue cancer."
Despite regular examinations, the actor's tumor was not recognized by doctors for a long time, they first treated his symptoms with antibiotics. A friend of mine from Montreal finally recognized the walnut-sized tumor in the throat. "I'll never forget the look on his face," said Douglas. An eight-week treatment including chemotherapy healed the actor about two years ago. He must now undergo a medical examination every six weeks. But Douglas is confident: "This type of cancer does not come back in 95 percent of cases."
Oral sex is a common cause of cancer of the mouth and throat Originally, smoking and alcohol were considered the main cause of tumors in the head and neck area. In the meantime, studies have shown that a large part of the tumors occurring in the mouth area contain human papillomaviruses. Professor Jens Klußmann, director of the University Hospital in Gießen, said at the annual general meeting for ENT medicine last year: "These viruses probably trigger every second cancer of the mouth and every fourth tumor of the oral cavity." Virus type 16 plays a special role here.
With over 18,000 sufferers annually, head and neck tumors are the fourth most common cancer in men. How many of the tumors in the mouth are caused by human papillomaviruses is, however, unclear. US studies found values to be 60 percent, Scandinavian studies account for a full 90 percent. "In Germany, the rates have so far been around 30 percent," says Klußmann. Norwegian scientists assume an annual rate of four to five percent. The exact causes of infection are still unclear.
HPV diseases are not uncommon There are now more than 100 types of the HP virus known, which are usually found in skin and mucous membrane cells. The transmission takes place through unprotected sexual intercourse, more rarely also through shared towels or drinking glasses. The infection often goes unnoticed by those affected. There are around 40 HPV types on the genitals and anus, which is why they are also called "genital HPV types".
Around 75 percent of all people become infected with HPV at least once in their life. As a rule, however, your own immune system copes with the disease. The viruses are therefore not permanently detectable. Another infection is possible at any time. In the genital area, HP viruses either lead to genital warts, which are comparatively harmless. However, progressive tissue changes are also possible, which can degenerate into a malignant tumor.
Vaccine to Protect Young Girls from HP Viruses HP viruses are known to cause cervical cancer. Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg also identified one. An investigation showed that animal skin cells become more susceptible to harmful UV radiation by "beta-papilloma viruses". They are therefore directly involved in the development of cancer.
In order to protect young girls from the consequences of the infection before they can become infected, the Robert Koch Institute's Standing Vaccination Committee recommends vaccination against the high-risk types between the ages of 12 and 17. However, it is still unclear whether boys will also benefit from the vaccine. There is therefore no general vaccination recommendation for them. (lb)