Rome, June 3 - Reports of throat cancer and related illness are on the rise in Italy, especially among young people, due in part to an increased incidence of oral sex, a specialist said Monday. The link between oral sex and disease came following comments by actor Michael Douglas, who said his throat cancer stemmed in part from the HPV virus transmitted through oral sex. Estimates are that as many as 50% of oropharyngeal cancers are attributable to the human papillomavirus (HPV) virus transmitted via oral sex, said the president of the Italian Society of Gynaecology (Sigo) Nicola Surico. As many as 12,000 new cases of related tumours are reported each year in Italy, said Surico. In less severe cases, the HPV virus causes pre-cancerous lesions treatable with lasers. The best means of preventing the spread of HPV is to extend the vaccination against the virus to young men, said Surico. Currently, the vaccination is targeted at young women. Thorough dental exams would also help in early detection.