Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Font Size

Increased Throat Cancer Cases Tied to HPV Infection

More whites develop cancers linked to oral sex, but blacks have worse survival rates, study finds

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Sept. 26 (HealthDay News) -- The sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV) may be behind the sharp rise in cases of throat and mouth cancers among young American adults, researchers say.

In a new study, investigators from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit analyzed U.S. government data and found that cancers of the base of the tongue, tonsils, soft palate and pharynx among adults aged 45 and younger increased 60 percent between 1973 and 2009. Collectively, these cancers are called oropharyngeal cancer.

There was a 113 percent rise in the rate of these cancers among whites, but a 52 percent decrease among blacks during the study period. However, the five-year survival rate for these cancers remains worse for blacks than for whites and other races, the study authors found.

HPV, which can cause genital and anal warts, is the most commonly transmitted sexual infection in the United States. Usually, the immune system clears the infection, but in some cases the virus persists in the body. And persistent infection with certain HPV strains can eventually lead to cancer -- with cervical cancer the best known.

HPV can also invade the mouth during oral sex. Those infections usually cause no symptoms, but a lingering infection with a cancer-linked strain can lead to oropharyngeal cancer.

The topic was given celebrity status this summer when actor Michael Douglas announced that his stage 4 throat cancer was the result of an HPV infection that he got from oral sex.

In a hospital news release on the new research, study lead author Dr. Farzan Siddiqui, director of the Head and Neck Radiation Therapy Program in the department of radiation oncology, said, "The growing incidence in oropharyngeal cancer has been largely attributed to the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, which led to an increased transmission of high-risk HPV."

Siddiqui added. "We were interested in looking at people born during that time period and incidence of oropharyngeal cancer. Not only were we surprised to find a substantial increase in young adults with cancer of the tonsils and base of tongue, but also a wide deviation among Caucasians and African Americans with this cancer."

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing