Past sexual behaviors and risks of oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma: a case–case comparison

Christoph Schnelle, David C. Whiteman, Sandro V. Porceddu, Benedict J. Panizza, Annika Antonsson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The incidence of oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) is increasing and is believed to reflect changing sexual practices in recent decades. For this case–case comparative study, we collected medical and life-style information and data on sexual behavior from 478 patients treated at the head and neck clinic of a tertiary hospital in Brisbane, Australia. Patients were grouped as (i) oropharyngeal SCC (n = 96), (ii) oral cavity, larynx and hypopharynx SCC (“other HNSCCs,” n = 96), (iii) other SCCs (n = 141), and (iv) other diagnoses (n = 145). We fitted multivariable logistic regression models to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) associated with lifestyle factors and sexual behaviors. Compared to the other three patient groups, the oropharyngeal SCC patients had overall more sexual lifetime partners (kissing, oral sex and sexual intercourse). Oropharyngeal SCC patients were significantly more likely to have ever given oral sex compared to the other three patient groups—93% of oropharyngeal SCC patients, 64% of other HNSCC patients, and 58% of patients with other SCC or other diagnoses. Oropharyngeal SCC patients were significantly more likely to have given oral sex to four or more partners when compared to patients with other HNSCC (odds ratio [OR] 11.9; 95% CI 3.5–40.1), other SCC (OR 16.6; 95% CI 5.3–52.0) or patients with other diagnoses (OR 25.2; 95% CI 7.8–81.7). The very strong associations reported here between oral sex practices and risks of oropharyngeal SCC support the hypothesis that sexually transmitted HPV infections cause some of these cancers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1027-1034
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Volume140
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017
Externally publishedYes

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