The human papillomavirus (HPV) is spreading quickly via oral sex, causing throat cancer disproportionately in men; the number of throat tumors caused by HPV is set to outpace the number caused by smoking, says a report released yesterday in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. “Researchers examined 271 throat-tumor samples collected over 20 years…and found that the percentage of oral cancer linked to the human papillomavirus surged to 72 percent from about 16 percent,” according to the report.
What’s the Big Idea?
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease and while at least half the sexually-active population will contract it during their lifetime, it does not usually cause any harm. The rise in cases of throat cancer in men, however, is shifting the responsibility of prevention, says Maura Gillison, an oncologist at Ohio State University: “The burden of cancer caused by HPV is going to shift from women to men in this decade.” Health professionals are calling on pharmaceutical companies to test the HPV vaccine for effectiveness in preventing throat cancer.