Michael Douglas – of Basic Instinct fame – has recently spoken out about his throat cancer and its cause: cunnilingus. Douglas’s cancer was triggered by HPV (the Human Papilloma Virus), which is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the UK, and can be transmitted through performing oral sex.

Diagnosed in August 2010 after a walnut-sized tumour was found on his tongue, the actor had been suffering many months of oral discomfort. After a gruelling eight-week intensive chemotherapy course Douglas has been given the all clear; a lucky escape from a stage four cancer which can be terminal. So how can you avoid the risks of HPV?

HPV is already well known for causing cervical and anal cancer, as well as genital warts, however an increasing number of cases are coming to light of the virus being responsible for oral cancers. Using a condom or dental dam for oral sex, as well as vaginal and anal, will reduce the risk of infection, and if you or your sexual partner have genital warts seek treatment immediately (only about 30 types of HPV result in genital warts, so don’t assume you are not infected if you lack these symptoms). There are now also vaccines available which can prevent infection from certain types of HPV, which are offered by Better2Know.

Prevention is clearly key, however considering the fact that an estimated 90% of sexually active people will have had a degree of exposure to a genital HPV by the age of 25, getting tested if you have any worries about your sexual health is essential.

Better2Know provide confidential testing with fast results from clinics across the country, and you can learn more about HPV testing and vaccines visit our HPV page.

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