Throat cancer survivor Michael Douglas says he's become an unintended poster boy for certain oral cancers after recent comments he made on possible causes of the disease that could include oral sex.
Speaking Monday at an American Cancer Society event in New York, the 68-year-old "Behind the Candelabra" star referenced his widely reported remarks, which originally appeared in the British newspaper The Guardian.
"I never expected to become a poster boy for head and neck cancer," said Douglas, who was receiving the inaugural Marvin Hamlisch Memorial Award at the One Centennial Sensation event marking the American Cancer Society's 100-year anniversary. "But, if after what started out as trying to answer a couple of questions about the suspected sources of this disease results in opening up discussion and furthering public awareness, then I'll stand by that," he added.
"Head and neck cancer can be caused by many things including HPV (human papillomavirus) virus, smoking, alcohol, drug abuse, genes, environment and stress," Douglas said. "I do not know what caused my cancer. If I did I'd have a Nobel Prize. I do know that I am here today because of incredible advances in cancer research and treatment. Early awareness is a key factor. If this episode contributes to public awareness all the better."
The Guardian had quoted Douglas as attributing his own throat cancer to the HPV virus received from performing oral sex. "Without wanting to get too specific, this particular cancer is caused by HPV (human papillomavirus), which actually comes from cunnilingus," he was quoted as saying.
A rep for the actor later clarified that Douglas did not state that his own cancer was actually caused by the HPV virus via oral sex, but that he was instead just discussing the various causes of oral cancers.