Sharp rise in cancers linked to oral sex

February 12, 2018  23:48

Experts are alarmed over a sharp rise in cancers linked to oral sex and poverty across the city.

Figures show a 40% surge in largely preventable head and neck cancers in Merseyside and Cheshire, with higher-than-average rates in Liverpool and Bootle.

The ECHO previously reported how an infection spread through oral sex was fuelling a rise in mouth cancer among young people locally.

Some strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) can cause cancer, and American actor Michael Douglas has said his own cancer came through HPV caught during oral sex.

HPV infections are common, but most strains have no cancer risk and very few sufferers develop the disease.

Now a probe has been launched into the links between head and neck cancers and inequality on Merseyside.

Some of Liverpool’s top experts met on Friday to start exploring why people in poorer areas are twice as likely to develop the diseases.

The new Liverpool Cancer Inequalities Research Network (LCIRN) will look for causes and solutions over the growing problem, funded by North West Cancer Research.

Sue Povall, LCIRN Co-ordinator, said: “LCIRN was set up following concerns from health professionals and academics in the region, that a significant number of patients diagnosed with head and neck cancer came from disadvantaged backgrounds.”

Kieran Murphy, Medical Director of NHS England for Cheshire and Merseyside, previously told the ECHO: “Head and neck cancer incidence and mortality rates for Cheshire and Merseyside are significantly higher and increasing at a faster rate than the rest of England.

“The more we can do in the North West to raise awareness of these cancers along with information on how to reduce risks and recognise the symptoms, the less people will need treatment and the more lives we can save.”

Macmillan Cancer Support has said drinking heavily and smoking are the main causes of mouth cancer, while long-term use of sunbeds can increase the risk of lip cancer.

The charity says the most common symptoms of mouth cancer are an ulcer or sore that does not heal, bleeding in the mouth, weight loss or a lump in the neck.

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