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Evidence Suggests HPV Link to Oropharyngeal Cancer

Study recommends consideration of human papillomavirus vaccination in men in addition to women

TUESDAY, Aug. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Despite the overall declining incidence of head and neck cancers in the United States, the rate of oropharyngeal cancer has plateaued and even risen in some populations, according to a review published online Aug. 27 in Cancer.

Erich M. Sturgis, M.D., and Paul Cinciripini, M.D., both of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, analyzed trends in head and neck cancer incidence in the United States, the association with smoking, and implications for public health.

The overall incidence of head and neck cancer has declined in the United States over the past 20 years, largely due to the parallel decline in smoking. However, rates of oropharyngeal cancer have remained stagnant, and evidence suggests a causative role of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, particularly subtype HPV-16.

The newly approved HPV vaccine will likely reduce the risk of oropharyngeal cancer in women, and researchers suggest that men be vaccinated as well, since the majority of oropharyngeal cancers occur in men.

"We encourage the rapid study of the efficacy and safety of these vaccines in males and, if successful, the recommendation of vaccination in young adult and adolescent males," the authors conclude.

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