Human papilloma virus (HPV) is spread through s**ual contact and is more usually associated with cervical cancer in women.
It is the most commonly s**ually transmitted infection in the U.S.
HPV can be passed between men and women by genital contact, most often during vaginal and anal s**.
It may also be passed on during oral s** and genital-to-genital contact. It can be passed on between straight and same-s** partners – even when the infected person has no signs or symptoms.
The cervical cancer jab given to 12 and 13-year-old schoolgirls aims to cut their odds of the cancer by protecting them against the virus.
Although most mouth and throat cancers are normally blamed on drinking and smoking an increasing number of cases that occur around the tonsils and back of the tongue are due to HPV.
Although the cancer is not contagious, the virus is.
In the US, HPV is blamed for up to 80% of these tumors of the tonsils and the back of the tongue, which experts say could be due to increasing popularity of oral s**.
The typical patient is described as an otherwise healthy man in his late 40s or early 50s who has never smoked or smoked very little.
Symptoms include persistent mouth ulcers, pain, discolored patches and difficulty chewing and swallowing.
Men are advised to check their neck for lumps when shaving and both men and women to look at the back of their throat while brushing their teeth.
Treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery are often more successful in mouth and throat cancers caused by the virus than those caused by tobacco and alcohol.