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HEALTH DIVA: Michael Douglas — Raising Awareness about Oral Sex and Cancer

By   |   June 24, 2013   |   Entertainment, Fitness

Our resident MD, Dr. Janna Andrews, takes on Michael Douglas and oral sex!

A few years ago, Michael Douglas courageously underwent treatment for a stage IV base of tongue cancer. Douglas was treated with concurrent chemotherapy and radiation therapy. It appears that he tolerated his treatment well and has been described as “tumor free,” though not necessarily cured because there is the potential risk for a recurrence.

According to the reports, Douglas went undiagnosed for months while his physicians tried to make sense out of his symptoms. By the time of diagnosis, Douglas was Stage IV.

Recently, the actor gave a very interesting interview about the potential causes of his throat cancer. Smoking and drinking are often associated risk to developing head and neck cancer. Douglas, however, also added oral sex or performing cunnilingus to that list. Later that actorΓÇÖs rep stated he was misquoted, but what a great way to raise awareness about head and neck cancer!

It should be noted that other lifestyle choices such as drinking and smoking also increase the risk of developing head and neck cancer.

HPV, the human papillomavirus, is an infection that commonly causes genital warts. Certain virulent strains have been tied to cervical, vulvar and anal cancer in women; penile and anal cancer in men; and throat cancer in both men and women. Over the past years, HPV has been increasingly associated with head and neck cancers. The tumor biology is different. Cancers caused by HPV tend to have better prognosis than cancers caused by smoking and drinking. Douglas has a history of tobacco and alcohol use as well, which with HPV also likely contributed to his disease.

Thankfully, HPV infections can now be prevented with vaccinations. It is recommended that girls and boys between the ages of 12-26 are vaccinated. The vaccine is also recommended for gay or bisexual men up to age 26. It is important to vaccinate before any HPV exposure, as the vaccine will not cure infections or cancers.

Even if Douglas was misquoted or misunderstood ΓÇô as it was discussed on our editor-in-chief Diva’s new VH1 series, The Gossip Table — he has opened a fantastic dialogue for the potential causes of head and neck cancer.

Hopefully the discussion will turn toward prevention and increasing HPV vaccinations. At the very least, the discussion will turn toward practicing safe sex!

photo credit: Claudette Barius/HBO Films

Filed Under: Entertainment, Fitness

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