All boys should be considered for vaccination against a virus transmitted by oral sex, which is strongly linked with a dramatic rise in throat and mouth cancers in young adults, a leading cancer specialist said yesterday.

At present, only girls are offered the vaccine against human papilloma virus (HPV) to guard against the risk of cervical cancer, which is caused by the sexual transmission of the virus through vaginal sex. However, boys too are at risk of mouth cancer by catching the virus through oral sex and it is now time to consider vaccination before they become sexually-active adolescents, said Professor Maura Gillison, an oncologist at Ohio State University in Columbus.

"I think the time has come to have a more through discussion about the potential benefits of HPV vaccines in boys," Professor Gillison told the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington.