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Oral Cancer linked to human papillomavirus: No increased HPV risk for long-term partners
Date:5/1/2014

Partners of patients diagnosed with human papilloma virus (HPV)-positive oropharyngeal cancer (OPC) were no more likely to test positive for oral HPV infection than people in the general population, according to a study published in the April 28 online edition of the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The findings should lessen anxiety that OPC cancer is contagious, at least among long-term partners, and confirms that couples who have been together for several years do not need to change their intimacy or sexual behavior because of the cancer diagnosis.

HPV infection is common among men and women in the U.S., but the overwhelming majority of individuals with the infection will not get cancer. The incidence of HPV-positive head and neck cancers, however, has increased significantly over the past 20 years, particularly among non-Hispanic, white U.S. men.

"Patients with HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancers and their partners often worry about oral HPV transmission and wonder about the cancer risk for their partner. These findings provide assurance that the prevalence of oral HPV infections is not increased among long-term partners and their risk of HPV-OPC remains low," said lead study author Gypsyamber D'Souza, PhD, MPH, MS, an associate professor of Epidemiology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "Couples who have been together for several years have likely already shared whatever infections they have and no changes in their physical intimacy are needed."

The study, the Human Oral Papillomavirus Transmission in Partners over Time (HOTSPOT), is the first large one to examine oral HPV infection among patients with HPV-caused oropharyngeal cancer and their partners. The study included 164 individuals with HPV-OPC and 93 spouses/partners. The OPC patients were predominantly male and partners predominantly female. The median age of OPC patients in this study was 56 years. Oral HPV DNA was collected through a 30-second mout
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Contact: Susan Sperry
ssperry1@jhu.edu
410-955-6919
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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