I welcome Hollywood actor Michael Douglas's very frank and open assessment in an interview with the Guardian newspaper, that it seems likely that the throat cancer that he'd suffered with over a number of years was caused by 'oral sex'.
The HPV (human papiloma virus) virus is widespread in the population and especially amongst reasonably sexually active people - with usually no can harmful effects. However, certain strains cause cancers in certain people.
These strains of HPV are widely associated with cervical cancer but it is less well known that they are also associated with penile cancers, anal cancers and throat cancers - where the virus is likely to have been transmitted through sexual contact. Although we do not yet fully understand why certain people are more vulnerable than others we do know additional risk factors include smoking and drinking alcohol.
This statement by Michael Douglas will help to raise awareness of the risks associated with hpv and I believe should serve to encourage those who should be part of the NHS vaccination program to ensure they do get vaccinated. It will also add more voices to the arguments which we have in clinical circles about the 'for's and against' of including boys within the national screening program as is the case in Australia. The vaccine would protect against all of the cancers associated with these hpv strains.
At Southdowns Private Healthcare we offer the HPV vaccine for those who are concerned and would like themselves or their children - both boys and girls, to be protected.