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“There are now more of these HPV-related throat cancers in men than there are cervical cancers in women,” said Dr.Erich Sturgis, professor of head and neck surgery at the MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas.Unlike HIV, which is spread by blood and semen, HPV is spread in the fluids of the mucosal membranes — which line the mouth, throat and genital tracts.“The highest viral loads tend to be in the cervix,” Sturgis said.HPV is the single biggest cause of cervical cancer and certain types of head and neck cancers called oropharyngeal cancers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Between 20, close to 39,000 people were diagnosed with a cancer caused by HPV every year in the U.“The predicted probability of high-risk oral HPV infection was greatest among black participants, those who smoked more than 20 cigarettes daily, current marijuana users, and those who reported 16 or more lifetime vaginal or oral sex partners,” the researchers wrote.Most people get over these infections and never even know they had them. But in some people, it stays in the infected tissues and causes DNA damage that, years later, causes a tumor to grow.

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But while the Pap smear and, more lately, HPV tests have reduced rates of cervical cancer, rates of oral cancer are growing.But there are almost 200,000 dentists across the country. If we could get dentists to at least ask parents whether their kids are vaccinated, just by asking we are going to help improve knowledge about the problem and at least get more of our kids vaccinated.” The risk hit the headlines 2013 when actor Michael Douglas announced that he was being treated for throat cancer and said he believed it was caused by HPV.An FDA-approved vaccine — Gardasil — prevents infection with the HPV strains most likely to cause cancer.Jason Mendelsohn had been married for close to 20 years and was happily raising three kids when he noticed the painless lump on his neck while shaving three years ago.Within days, he had been diagnosed with a deadly form of cancer caused by a virus that he probably caught while in college, decades before.“Men performing oral sex on women probably tend to get exposed to the highest amount of virus.” MD Anderson and other groups are working to encourage HPV vaccination, but they are also trying to fill the gap for people too old to be vaccinated who are at high risk.

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