"We always thought, to prevent these cancers, all we had to do was get people to stop smoking and drinking excess alcohol, and stop chewing tobacco, and that we'd eliminate most head and neck cancers," said Sturgis. But, he added, future prevention efforts will likely focus on the HPV vaccine and on safe sex practices. For now, he said, women who've had an abnormal Pap smear and their partners probably shouldn't engage in oral sex.
To learn more about head and neck cancers, visit the National Cancer Institute.
SOURCES: Erich Sturgis, M.D., associate professor, head and neck surgery and epidemiology, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston; Jay Brooks, M.D., chairman, hematology/oncology, Ochsner Health System, Baton Rouge, La.; Aug. 27, 2007, Cancer online