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Oral sex linked to rise in cancers

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Researchers have suggested boys as well as girls should be vaccinated against cancers linked to a virus spread by oral sex.

There has been a rapid rise in the number of head and neck cancers liked to human papillomavirus (HPV), according to a report in the British Medical Journal.

The BMJ report says the increase in cases of oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) in the developed world may hint at the need to revise leaving boys out of immunisation plans to save costs.

The risk of getting oropharyngeal carcinoma is linked to a history of six or more sexual partners, four or more oral sex partners, and, for men, an earlier age of first sexual intercourse.

Scientists at the Institute of Head and Neck Studies at University Hospital Coventry, led by Hisham Mehanna, concluded: “Sexual transmission of HPV - primarily through orogenital intercourse - might be the reason for the increase in incidence of HPV related oropharyngeal carcinoma.”

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