Michael Douglas Oropharyngeal Cancer related to HPV

Michael Douglas

Michael Douglas made headlines when he disclosed to Guardian newspaper reporter Xan Brooks that his throat cancer was not caused by his years of smoking and drinking but with HPV or Human Papillomavirus, which also, cause cervical cancer in women. The academy award winning Hollywood actor appeared to blame his cancer on stress and “without wanting to get too specific” from oral sex with an infected partner. Later, his publicist clarified that Mr. Douglas was merely enumerating the causes of the cancer.

Michael Douglas oropharyngeal cancer related to HPV?

The 68-year-old actor was diagnosed with cancer in 2010. The specialists treated him with antibiotics following months of discomfort. These specialist missed the tumor, which was growing at the base of his tongue. When he visited a friend’s doctor in Montreal, he was diagnosed with stage-four cancer and after a rigorous eight-week treatment, Douglas has now been cancer-free for two years.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that 60% of oropharyngeal cancers, cancers of the throat, tonsils and the base of tongue — are related to HPV. It is estimated that every year in the U.S., more than 2,370 new cases of HPV-related oropharyngeal cancers are diagnosed in women and about 9,356 are diagnosed in men; they are most common in white men.

Facts about HPV

In the U. S., about 79 million people aged 15 to 49 are currently infected with HPV, and 14 million are newly infected each year. All sexually active men and women will contract at least one type of HPV in their lives because it is so common. It can cause warts, cervical cancer, and cancers such as oropharyngeal, vulvar, penile, anal, and vaginal cancers. Statistics show that 360,000 persons are infected with genital warts each year, and 12,000 women will get cervical cancer each year in the U.S., and thousands more are infected with diseases associated with HPV. Each year, approximately 820 children get RRP.

According to Center for Disease Control, genital human papillomavirus or HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that can infect the mouth and throat. There are more than 40 types of HPV that can be transmitted during sexual intercourse, and oral sex, but HPV 16 and 18 accounts for 70% of cervical cancer. In rare cases, a mother can pass HPV to her baby during delivery. When this happens, a child can develop RRP or recurrent respiratory disease, which causes warts to grow in the throat.

According to the Mayo Clinic, HPV is a precursor of cervical cancer that can also infect the head and neck. It can affect anyone regardless of age and geographical area. Throughout the years, thousands of men and women are infected with HPV-related diseases, and that includes celebrities and famous people, like Marissa Jaret WinoKur, Jade Goody, Farrah Fawcett, Sandi Thom, and the Second wife of Juan Peron, Evita Peron, who died of cervical cancer at the age of 28. Eva’s mother also died at the age of 77 of the same disease.

How is HPV Infection Treated?

According to CDC, there is no treatment for the virus but the symptoms and problems are treatable. Genital warts may be numerous, often remain the same, and may disappear on their own. GW can also be removed by surgery and medication. Pap tests are carried out to find abnormal cervical cells. With early detection and treatment, HPV-related disorders have a higher success rate.

In the case of Michael Douglas, there is no indication that the walnut sized tumor at the base of his tongue was removed. According to the Guardian newspaper, after Douglas was diagnosed with terminal cancer, he was subjected to chemotherapy and radiation for eight weeks. The treatment program also included a liquid diet. The treatment made him very weak, but it worked. HPV infection is preventable, and 11 to 12-year-old boys and girls can now receive vaccines. The shots are given three times in the course of a 6-month period.

Written by: Janet Grace Ortigas

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