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Oral sex and human papilloma virus-related head and neck squamous cell cancer: a review of the literature
  1. Ankit Shah,
  2. Akshat Malik,
  3. Apurva Garg,
  4. Manish Mair,
  5. Sudhir Nair,
  6. Pankaj Chaturvedi
  1. Department of Head and Neck Oncology, Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, India
  1. Correspondence to Dr Akshat Malik, Department of Head & Neck Oncology, Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India; akshatmalik{at}


Head neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCCs) are a significant cause of morbidity and mortality all around the world. Just like tobacco and alcohol, Human papilloma virus (HPV) infection is now recognized to play a role in the pathogenesis of a subset of HNSCCs. Unprotected sexual behaviours with the HPV carrier plays an important role in transmission of this virus. The global incidence of head and neck cancers is declining, but the incidence of HPV related head and neck cancers is rapidly increasing over the last few decades. However, most institutions do not mandate documentation of sexual history or counselling of patients regarding sexual practices like they do for tobacco and alcohol addictions in HNSCC patients. The aim of this review of literature is to analyse if there is a strong evidence to correlate oral sex with HPV related HNSCC and counsel the patient’s regarding sexual behaviours.

  • oral sex
  • cunnilingus
  • fellatio
  • human papilloma virus
  • sexual behaviours
  • head and neck cancer
  • oral cancer
  • oropharyngeal cancer

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  • Contributors AS: data collection, analysis of data, manuscript preparation; AM, AG, MM: analysis of data, manuscript preparation; SN: manuscript preparation; PC: concept and idea.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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