Health Alert
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Risky Behaviors

Updated: Monday, November 11 2013, 10:19 PM EST
Risky teen behaviors are leading to big problems later in life, including cancer.

But as News 13's Jay Siltzer explains in this special Health Alert, problems can be reduced, if not avoided, even if sexual habits don't change.

Michael Douglas says oral sex gave him cancer of the tongue and he's not alone.

Dr. Shawn Kosnik, "oral cancer is becoming more and more of a problem."

Mistee Cutshaw, registered nurse, "you are seeing 35 year olds with throat cancer because of HPV."

HPV the human papillomavirus is the most common sexually transmitted disease.

Most people who contract it, typically through vaginal, anal or oral sex, naturally get rid of it, but not everyone.

Researchers know that HPV can cause cancer years after exposure, especially in the mouth and throat where treatment is particularly painful.
Mistee Cutshaw, "and it's extensive. It ranges from surgeries to chemos to radiation, combination of the three."

Dr. Shawn Kosnik, "voice and swallowing is largely affected by the treatment, so all the treatments are aimed at preserving function while curing the disease at the same time."

Doctors say those concerns for youngsters can be reduced greatly by receiving the HPV vaccine.

Dr. Kosnik, "it's recommended by the CDC now for boys and girls ages 11-12 to start the vaccination process.  You want them to be vaccinated prior to them having any sort of sexual activity."

Mistee Cutshaw, RN, parent of Jacob, "you are protecting your child from a possible disease that could kill them."

Mistee Cutshaw made her son Jacob, now 17, get the series of HPV injections.

Dr. Charles Toledo, pediatrician, "this vaccine was primarily designed to prevent this infection which causes cancer.

A new study shows one dose instead of the current series of three could be enough.  But, doctors we talked with and the CDC are sticking with the series of three doses until more research is done.

The number of young people getting the vaccine is less one third.

Some health experts say until that number doubles, the amount of oral cancers will continue to rise.Risky Behaviors

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