HPV-Related Cancer On The Rise

October 09, 2018
by John Kelly, MD
HPV-Related Cancer On The Rise

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said a rise in cancer has been tied to the sexually transmitted disease human papillomavirus with throat cancer being the most common.

According to the CDC, over 43,000 people were diagnosed with HPV-related cancer in 2015; in 1999, that number was just 30,000. The CDC also said the number of people getting the HPV vaccination has also increased, which can help stem the rise in cancer cases. However, it’s not increasing fast enough, experts have said.

In 2017, about half of teenagers 13-17 have gotten their recommended HPV vaccination doses with two-thirds getting the first dose. This is an increase of five percentage points from 2016.

Former MD Anderson Cancer Center president Ronald DePinho said the move is going in the right direction, but not all parents and health care providers are giving the children the vaccine, which has been proven safe and quite effective.

He said not getting the vaccine that could prevent cancers is a tragic, missed opportunity.

80 million in the U.S. are infected with the common STD. While most HPV cases clear themselves up, certain HPV strains are persistent and can lead to cervical, anal, penile, vaginal and throat cancers.

According to the agency, 90 percent of HPV-related cancer cases could be prevented. The vaccine, which was introduced about 10 years ago, has helped to significantly lower HPV infections and cervical pre-cancer However, it can take some time before the full benefits of the vaccine are seen since it takes a few years for several cancers to develop once HPV has infected someone.

The CDC suggests children 11 and 12 get two HPV vaccine doses about six to 12 months apart. Anyone after 15 years of age should receive three shots.

Many experts have agreed the rise in HPV vaccination rates is good but more improvement could be made.

A report shows that fewer teenagers living in rural areas are getting the vaccine and the meningitis vaccine. Also, boys are still less likely to get the vaccine as girls – with 53 percent of females compared to 44 percent of males receiving it.

Throat cancer rates in both men and women have risen between 1999 and 2015 with more in men being diagnosed with the disease.


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