Michael Douglas spoke about the cause of his past cancer – condition explained
Michael Douglas says we're getting 'closer to a third world war'
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The Fatal Attraction actor underwent two months of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with cancer in 2010. The actor told The Guardian in 2013 that he thought it was caused by oral sex, which his media team later clarified. Around the time of his diagnosis in 2010, the star said his condition was throat cancer but in 2013 said he hid the fact it was really tongue cancer. “The surgeon said, ‘Let’s just say it’s throat cancer,'” the actor told Samuel L. Jackson on This Morning as a part of Male Cancer Awareness Week.
Douglas was asked by The Guardian whether he regretted smoking and drinking.
“No” was his response. The star explained he thought his cancer, which at the time of the interview hadn’t been announced publicly as mouth cancer, was from an STI known as HPV.
He said: “Without wanting to get too specific, this particular cancer is caused by HPV [human papillomavirus], which actually comes about from cunnilingus.”
The star’s publicist later clarified Douglas’ explanation of his cancer. They told American news outlet CNN that the actor didn’t say the sole cause of his cancer was oral sex because he was also a smoker and a drinker.
A press statement said: “Michael Douglas did not say cunnilingus was the cause of his cancer. It was discussed that oral sex is a suspected cause of certain oral cancers as doctors in the article point out, but he did not say it was the specific cause of his personal cancer.”
Although HPV, a group of more than 100 viruses that can cause genital warts, is known to cause head and neck cancers, such as mouth cancer, there are studies showing that smoking can also be an important risk factor.
One study from 2017 found that while smoking doesn’t necessarily cause HPV throat cancer, it can increase your overall risk of cancer cells.
The symptoms of tongue cancer, according to Cedars Cinai, include a lump on the side of the tongue or a lump that bleeds easily if it is touched.
The NHS adds that it can lead to changes in speech, such as a lisp or painful mouth ulcers.
It’s the sixth most common condition around the world although less common in the UK.
8,300 people in the UK are diagnosed with mouth cancer each year.
The star also opened up about his chemotherapy treatment with The Guardian, calling it a “rough ride”. The chemotherapy weakened his body, he said.
How to detect HPV
HPV can be detected through a blood test, as well as cervical screening for women.
Screening is offered for all women aged 25 to 64.
However, there is no routine screening test for the disease for men.
Lloyds Pharmacy recommends men lookout for any changes to the genitals, including lumps, rashes, discharge, and pain.
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