By Michael Gwarisa in Kadoma
ORAL Sex has been identified as the leading driver of Tongue Cancer in the country, with a number of cases having been detected already in most parts of the country, a Cancer Association of Zimbabwe official has said.
Briefing Journalists during a National Aids Council Editors Sensitisation Workshop on HIV/AIDS reporting in Kadoma, Cancer Association of Zimbabwe Information and Evaluation Officer Lovemore Makurirofa said the same Human Papillomavirus (HPV) which causes cervical cancer could be the reason behind the new tongue cancer cases being recorded.
“Oral Cancer is not very significant, it is classified under other cancer cases but its relationship to HPV makes it the reason why i mentioned it because HPV is sexually transmitted. Among females, HPV causes cervical cancer in Zimbabwe, which accounts for 35% percent of all cervical cancer cases.
“But through oral sex, the same HPV that is responsible for Cervical Cancer in women, or Penile Cancer in men can also cause tongue or Oral cancers through oral sex as it resides beneath the foreskin in men and on the cervix in women. In Zimbabwe we however believe Oral sex is not that significant,” said Makurirofa.
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). HPV is a different virus than HIV and HSV (herpes). HPV is so common that nearly all sexually active people get it at some point in their lives.
There are many different types of HPV. Some types can cause health problems including genital warts and cancers. But there are vaccines that can stop these health problems from happening.
Makurirofa added that not less than 50% of cancers can be prevented as most of them are caused by habits that people adopt which include smoking, eating junk foods, oral sex among others. According to experts, the HPV virus in men can be greatly reduced by Male Circumcision and practicing hygiene before and after sex for example washing one’s manhood.
“The messages that we are seeing or hearing in the communities is that Cancer can not be cured, cancers can not be treated. Cancer can be treated and prevented especially if diagnosed early.
“Treatment is offered at any stages but the challenge that we have in Zimbabwe is that 81% of the cases that are being reported at our health institutions there usually at advanced stages 3 and 4. You find that 57% of new cancer cases and 65% of the deaths occur in developing countries. You find that although cancers are also common in developed countries, most of the deaths and new cancer cases are occurring in the developing countries.”
He also said most of the cancers in the developing countries are infection related cancers as they might be related to HIV or even HPV.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe records not less than 2000 cancer related deaths every year.