TV star Julie McCrossin: Oral sex gave me cancer

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December 05 2019




Six years after she was diagnosed with oropharyngeal cancer, she says cancer caused by HPV (human papillomavirus) is on the rapid rise.

HPV is the name for a group of more that 150 related viruses, many of which are transmitted via vaginal, anal and oral sex.

'I had oral sex, and a little bit of HPV must have lodged in my throat. I didn't know until they told me I had throat cancer,' she explained.

'There's no shame in it. It's ordinary sexual behaviour... there's no embarrassment in talking about cervical cancer, but there is embarrassment for people to talk about cancer in the throat.

'I'm just trying to have the courage to speak about it, put my name to oral sex. I'm not the only person to have oral sex in Australia, but if we don't talk openly about it, people will get the shock I had.'

Currently cancer-free after 30 rounds of radiation therapy and chemo, Julie added, 'If we don't start talking, more people are gonna die.' 

According to cancer charity, Beyond Five, 'Four out of five people will have some kind of HPV infection somewhere in their body at some point in their lives. Many people are exposed specifically to oral HPV during their lifetime.'

The charity added, 'It is estimated that at any given time 10 percent of men and 4 percent of women have oral HPV infection. Most of these are with low-risk types of HPV that do not cause cancer. Most people are able to clear their infections on their own within one to two years, without ever knowing they had it.'

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