Portland man: cancer caused by oral sex

Portland man: cancer caused by oral sex


by Katherine Cook, KGW Staff


Posted on June 4, 2013 at 8:00 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 4 at 3:33 PM

PORTLAND -- Mark Satchell has been married for twenty years, lives a quite life and is happy he settled down.

But a couple years ago, his self-titled "wild years of youth" came back to haunt him.

"I didn't know much about HPV until this happened," said Satchell.

Satchell's doctor diagnosed him with esophageal cancer, caused by the Human Papilloma virus. According to doctors, the HPV strain responsible can cause cervical cancer in women and throat cancer in men who contract it through oral sex.

They estimate more than 13,500 people will be diagnosed with oropharyngeal cancer this year, most of them men.

"This cancer, I don't think anybody thought you could get it from sexual contact," said Satchell.

Actor Michael Douglas recently told a newspaper reporter that HPV caused his throat cancer. A spokesperson for Douglas later said the actor was only talking about possible causes.

Satchell's cancer surgeon, Dr. Eric Dierks, said there is a stigma about the disease that hinders prevention and education.

"This is related to oral sex, there I said it," explained Dierks. "This is related to oral sex."

Dierks said unlike the pap smear, which can reveal cervical cancer in women, there isn't a reliable test for HPV in men. There is, however, an HPV vaccine for boys and girls.

"[The vaccine] protects from both types of cancer so if I could tell the public to do one thing, it's vaccinate your children," said Dierks.

Satchell has been cancer-free for two years. He can't change his past but said he hopes his story will help change someone's future.

"It's kind of embarrassing," said Satchell, "but I'm 58. Not much to get embarrassed about anymore."

Dierks said with proper treatment, patients who contract HPV-related throat cancer have a high percentage of beating it.

He said woman can also contract that form of cancer, but it's rare.