An Alarming New Trend in Throat Cancer Cases

By Rebecca Jones

For years now we have heard about a link between HPV and cervical cancer but a new study indicates that the same viral infection is also now the leading cause of mouth and throat cancer in men.

In a report released in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, researchers revealed that by the year 2020 virus-linked throat tumors in men will be more common than HPV-related cervical cancer in women. In their study researchers examined 271 throat-tumor samples collected over a 20 year period. They discovered that over the course of the study cancer cases linked to HPV rose from 16% to 72%.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 20 million Americans have genital HPV infections and it is estimated that half of the sexually active population will contract the virus at some point in their lives. While most of the time the infection clears on its own within a year or two in certain cases it can persist and lead to cervical cancer  or loss of fertility in women and cancers of the anus or penis in men.  While there are currently two vaccines available for men and women between the ages of 9-25 there has been little to no research done to see if these vaccines can be applied to the prevention of oral cancers.  Up until just a few years ago oral cancer was predominantly found in older men and could be linked to tobacco and alcohol use but this upsurge of HPV cases in men in their 30’s and 40’s has been a wakeup call regarding how far behind the times our research into the link between HPV and oral cancer really is.