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Increase in oral cancers linked to HPV
October 3rd, 2011
04:00 PM ET

Increase in oral cancers linked to HPV

The human papillomavirus is contributing to the growing number of  head and neck cancers in the United States, according to a new study Monday in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The study found that the number of cases of oropharyngeal cancer - cancers of the tonsil, back of the mouth (throat) and base of the tongue - has been on the rise since the mid-1980s.  The study suggests that one reason could an increase in the number of people having oral sex resulting in oral human papillomavirus  exposure.

Researchers say these cancers fall into two categories–those caused by tobacco and alcohol and those caused by the sexually transmitted virus, HPV. They now believe approximately 70% of all oropharyngeal cancers are caused by HPV infection.

"We used to think of oropharyngeal cancer as one cancer," said senior author Dr. Maura Gillison, The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center in Columbus. "Now we know the disease is comprised of two biologically and epidemiologically distinct cancers. This new understanding will increasingly enable us to improve and better personalize care for patients with each form of the disease."

Researchers tested cancer tissue samples from almost 6,000 patients in Hawaii, Iowa and Los Angeles between 1984 and 2004. They found the HPV-positive cancers increased 225% while HPV-negative oropharynx cancers dropped 50%–most likely because of a reduction in smoking and tobacco use. Even so, patients with HPV-positive cancers live longer.

"Patients with HPV positive cancers have better survival rates," said principal investigator Dr. Anil Chaturvedi of the National Cancer Institute. "The precise reasons for the survival benefits are not clear, but tumors in HPV-positive patients tend to have less genetic damage. Because of that, they are more responsive to cancer therapies like radiation treatment."

"The HPV status of a patient's tumor is the single greatest determinant of whether a person lives or dies after a diagnosis of local-regionally advanced oropharynx cancer," Gillison said. "HPV-positive patients have an approximate 60% reduction in risk of death after their diagnosis when compared to HPV-negative patients."

Gillison says about 95% of the HPV-positive oropharynx cancers were caused by HPV16, a strain targeted by Gardasil and Cervarix, the two vaccines currently on the market to prevent cervical cancer. Gardasil is manufactured by Merck & Co. and Cervarix is made by GlaxoSmithKline.

Gardasil was approved in 2006 for use in females  ages 9-26 to help prevent cervical cancer and genital warts. It was approved in 2009 for  males9-26 to reduce the risk of genital warts. It has not been recommended for use in preventing HPV-associated cancers, according to the National Cancer Institute. Cervarix was approved in 2009 for use in females 10-25. It is not approved for males.

The findings are important because the increase in these cancers has been relatively rapid compared with other HPV associated cancers like cervical cancer, Chaturvedi says. With cervical cancer, incidence rates have declined over time because of screening, but currently there is no screening in place for oropharyngeal cancers.

"Should the observed declines in cervical cancer and the observed increases in HPV positive oropharyngeal cancers continue into the future," Chaturvedi said.  "HPV positive oropharyngeal cancers will be the leading HPV associated cancers over the next decade–by around 2020."

There were almost 35,000 new cases of oral and oropharyngeal cancers this year, according to the American Cancer Society. While about 7,000 Americans will die this year, death rates associated with these cancers has actually been declining over the last 30 plus years.

"The burden of invasive HPV-caused cancers will shift from women to men in the US, largely due to the rise of HPV-positive oropharynx cancers among men," Gillison said. "HPV infection and its consequences have long been considered a women's problem, and women will continue to bear the brunt of the morbidity associated with the infection. However, gender equity is being achieved with regard to the burden of HPV-caused cancers. HPV infection is therefore a problem for both men and women."


soundoff (493 Responses)
  1. Hank

    Id be willing to bet that most of the people getting HPV in their mouths got it from someone they met on Craigslist. Why would you want to lick or suck something that everybody and their brother was shooting a load in?

    October 4, 2011 at 11:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Elaine

      Hank@CDC says that nearly 80% of ALL Us citizens have been exposed to HPV...that includes non-craigs list daters!

      October 5, 2011 at 14:13 | Report abuse |
  2. Festered

    And even worse yet, the government has been forcing bad information down our throats saying we require regular water for hydration. They end up getting us hooked on it and charge us for it over our entire lives – what a racket. Unbeknownst to us, they even put floridians in it which is known to cause paranoia, but they won't tell you.

    October 4, 2011 at 11:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Bertomus

    @wisdom4u2, don't spread this kind of FUD.

    You say "we're still here" despite HPV being present. You've completely missed the point. Why do you think HPV would kill off all of mankind? Do you realize human life expectancy was dismally short in the past? Yes, we're "still here", but we all had ancestors who died in their 20s, 30s, 40s from cancer and other ailments.

    October 4, 2011 at 12:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. goodfences

    Even Michelle Obama says we should stop eating out so much.

    October 4, 2011 at 12:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • elle

      LMAO – That was bad.

      October 4, 2011 at 12:52 | Report abuse |
  5. John_Dunkel

    I'm sure vaccine shots will do it for everybody instead of eating healthy and exercise.

    October 4, 2011 at 12:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Anna

    I wish I could transport all those people who are against vaccinations a few hundred years back in time, to see how long they'd live. Before you jump on the conspiracy train, you should compare the average lifespan of people now compared to pre-modern medicine period. Or heck, just go to a third world country and see it right now. A bunch of countries have life expectancy that's less than 40. I don't know why people are so obsessed with the profits of pharmaceutical companies. If you had a business would you give away your products for free? I think not. Sure, the number of years a company can hold a patent on a drug could be limited, but you don't want them to lose the profit. If they did, no new life-saving drugs would be made. They need a financial incentive just like any other business.

    October 4, 2011 at 12:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • livinginreality

      Bravo!!! Well said. But, I seem to recall that there are patent limits on drugs, but I think they are LONG.

      October 4, 2011 at 12:38 | Report abuse |
    • Anna

      I meant to say shorter time limits on patents. I think they are roughly 20 yrs now ... However, considering how much time and money is spent on research and testing, they can't be too short either.

      October 4, 2011 at 14:10 | Report abuse |
  7. livinginreality

    Most of you posting are so "blinded by perceived brainwashing, lying, etc., etc.". It's quite obvious that you wouldn't recognize the truth or reality if it bit you!!! I'm not telling you to stop being vigilant, but don't let those preconceived ideas and notions prevent you from listening, researching, and maybe know when that true & real threat is there, which is what this is. Believe me, I have problems with pharmaceuticals, TV advertising, prescription drug abuse, in the back pocket "politics", and so on and so forth. But, that is NOT going to blind me to a real danger when it is discovered and presents itself. So, please, before you open your mouth and comment, or type it on a public forum such as this.......know what you're talking about, in full, and in reality!!!!

    October 4, 2011 at 12:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Kevin O.

    WARTS GONNA EAT YOUR FACE AFTER YOU EAT HIM/HER OUT!!! *caps lock off*

    October 4, 2011 at 12:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. The Gays

    Michelle Bachman has oral cancer of the ignoramous strain

    October 4, 2011 at 12:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. michelle bauchmann

    you don't need no stinking vacination just die of cancer already so we can save the government some money

    October 4, 2011 at 12:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. jweller

    Do guys have to worry about HPV or is it only women?

    October 4, 2011 at 13:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Elaine

      Men as well as women can contract HPV and get cancer from it. I just read an article about a chef in his 20s that had to have most of his tongue removed because of HPV oral cancer....This is not a joke!

      October 5, 2011 at 13:59 | Report abuse |
  12. ModernMan

    Becoming a master at orally pleasuring a woman was not easy... and now this. Oh well, I'd rather go happy.

    October 4, 2011 at 13:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jenny Da Block

      God bless the Modern Man! Please fella's ...don't let this scare you off from a little dive or two!!!!!!

      October 4, 2011 at 13:37 | Report abuse |
    • ModernMan

      I'll still be goin down every chance I get!

      October 4, 2011 at 13:52 | Report abuse |
  13. Philip

    Baby, I love you so much, I'm willing to get cancer by eating at the Y.
    Now go make me a sandwich.

    October 4, 2011 at 13:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Lou

    Typical comments from people who are against vaccines, until a crisis occurs that is!.... and then they're elbowing their way to front front of the line to get themselves and their precious child the life saving vaccine!!....people in underdeloped coutries are so grateful to avoid deadly diseases thru vaccines....they see first hand the terrible affects of diseases and deaths in there families and would never risk this happending to them.....my gawd...crazy paranoid conspiracy theories with pharma companies and goverment...get real people ...Vaccines are science/medicine at its finest, developed to save lives!

    October 4, 2011 at 13:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. SMC

    Something like 6 million people, just in the US, get HPV each year, yet the cancer rates from HPV is in the thousands, somewhere around 30,000. So, even if you get HPV, the odds you are going to contract cancer would seem like they are in the rates of a fraction of a percent. It would be good if the CDC got its media mess together and stopped advertising for big pharma. If there are specific strains of HPV that are a threat, the CDC needs to get real numbers out there about them, and stop talking about HPV in the generic sense, which means nothing because most people come into contact with forms of HPV in their life, and only a few strains have been shown to be significant cancer threats.

    October 4, 2011 at 13:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. martinmunson

    I like that picture. mmm. wickedimproper . com

    October 4, 2011 at 13:33 | Report abuse | Reply
    • teresa

      ADULT STEM CELLS CURE'S AIDS / HIV and A NUMBER OF OTHER THINGS BUT WHY????? IS AMERICA BEING HELD BACK FROM THE MAJOR LEAP IN MEDICINE DOES AMERICA WANT TOO KILL YOU ??????? OTHER COUNTRIES MAKING MAJOR LEAPS INTO MEDICINE BUT AMERICA IS STILL IN THE STONE AGE WHY????? WHO BENEFITS THE FDA BIG CORPORATIONS .......???

      October 17, 2011 at 22:56 | Report abuse |
  17. El Flaco

    The most important thing is for the government to outlaw these vaccines. Allowing women to prevent cervical cancer and throat cancer will only encourage them to be promiscuous. As a nation, we cannot be seen as approving of promiscuity.

    October 4, 2011 at 13:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Fred Frederson

      It's not going to happen. Access to these vaccines is a public good. Only a stupid person with no will would suggest that offering the vaccine would "promote" promiscuity. Christianity supports forgiveness. This vaccine is a physical embodiment of fractional forgiveness. This vaccine is no less a gift from the Christian god and proof of god's grace than the tip god gave Noah.

      Go back to your hole.

      October 4, 2011 at 13:57 | Report abuse |
    • Jane

      I hope you are being sarcastic.

      October 4, 2011 at 16:45 | Report abuse |
    • sharks2006

      Really? I hope you're not serious. I'm by no means a firm believer in certain vaccines, but to say that allowing one to be on the market would promote promiscuity is just plain ridiculous. I think that should be the least of your worries.

      October 4, 2011 at 16:58 | Report abuse |
    • semi-adult

      When Rick Perry says it, he gets approval by the Xtians. When YOU say it, not so much.

      Maybe you're not wearing the right boots.

      October 4, 2011 at 18:34 | Report abuse |
  18. Tom, Tom, the Piper's OTHER Son

    Oh barnacles!

    October 4, 2011 at 13:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Jeepers

    I consider this a win in the marital duties department. It'll be like, "What? You want me to get cancer? I thought you loved me."

    October 4, 2011 at 14:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. RBN

    There sure are some paranoid people here. How dumb do you need to be to think our government would purposefully, secretly expose our citizens to harmful bioagents – natural or man-made? Unless you're counting the Tuskegee experiment, Agent Orange, etc... Then, it was to serve the noble cause of scientific research, or military gain. Today, it's done for pure profit. If you think your healthcare provider is not profiting from prescribing you the drugs the pharmaceutical companies pay them to prescribe, you're the deluded people. You'll find out, down the road, when it's too late for you. And then you'll be crying about why nobody told the entire system is corrupt from the top down. It's cheaper for pharma to pay lawsuits and fines than to pay for real research. They develop the drug, put the drug on the market and watch to see how many people get sick or die. Remembering how America is supposed to be and realizing the truth about how things operate in the real world is the difference between being educated and living in your own perfect bubble. Calling people paranoid for realizing the real world isn't as pretty as it is in YOUR head, says more about your lack of education than it does about other people's point of view.

    October 4, 2011 at 15:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. mark jessup

    i guess we know how paris hilton will die now ? head and neck cancer

    October 4, 2011 at 15:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ed

      hope not but most likely from rectal cancer..

      October 4, 2011 at 16:27 | Report abuse |
  22. Jane

    Can't wait to hear what Bachmann has to say about this one.

    October 4, 2011 at 16:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Marrquise

    The Human Papilloma virus in rare cases causes penile cancer. It can be seen in the bladder and anus of men. HPV does not discriminate. Women have more delicate reproductive systems but in no way are they the only ones impacted. This double standard of labeling women as promiscuous for getting infected is wrong, she may have gotten infected by her spouse. Let;s focus on educating and discipling our males on being virtuous men.

    October 5, 2011 at 07:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. FredSmacker

    @Fred Frederson – Your problem is that you're spending way to much time in your own hole. Pull your head out of your hole. Your daddy tells me the best part of you ran down your mother's leg!

    October 5, 2011 at 09:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Elaine

    Bucktooth, do YOUR research!
    I am an HPV cancer survivor and HPV is most likely contracted in the early stages of life, 16-25. The vaccine is administered to young adolescents because that is when their immune system is the healthiest and most receptive to the vaccine. This protects them LATER IN LIFE!! Read above about the lady who was a virgin at marriage and got the HPV from her husband.

    October 5, 2011 at 13:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Elaine

    SMC@ the CDC states that they believe nearly 80% of us have been exposed to HPV...and the rate of oral cancers have INCREASED by 225% since the late 80s. This new etiology is being considered a "21st century pandemic" by many doctors....THAT IS SOMETHING TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT.

    October 5, 2011 at 14:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Rebecca

    Where do you think the majority of pharmaceutical drugs come from? They are derived from the natural products used in herbal medicines, it just happens that it is cheaper to make synthetically than to extract the drug each time you want to make a pill. Do some research and you will all see that many drugs you take today are versions of if not exact copies of the active ingredients that ancient people used. And before I get attacked for saying this, I am a chemist working on drug discoveries.

    October 10, 2011 at 20:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Paul

      I'm a chemist too. I cook crack in my kitchen, and sell it to poor minorities, in order to repress them.

      October 13, 2011 at 16:16 | Report abuse |
  28. teresa

    ADULT STEM CELLS CURE'S AIDS / HIV and A NUMBER OF OTHER THINGS BUT WHY????? IS AMERICA BEING HELD BACK FROM THE MAJOR LEAP IN MEDICINE DOES AMERICA WANT TOO KILL YOU ??????? OTHER COUNTRIES MAKING MAJOR LEAPS INTO MEDICINE BUT AMERICA IS STILL IN THE STONE AGE WHY????? WHO BENEFITS THE FDA BIG CORPORATIONS .......??

    October 17, 2011 at 22:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Dr. Welby

    In my day no self respecting MD would even thing of accepting gratuities from a pharmaceutical company or it representatives. Notice my day is LONG gone~~:) Pass the grave please!

    October 25, 2011 at 16:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. dao

    It is assumed that the mode of transmission is oro-genital, however there are no studies to prove it.

    October 25, 2011 at 19:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. mattymays

    hi thechart.blogs.cnn.com-ers have a nice xmas to all of you – matt

    December 21, 2011 at 18:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. LeahM

    Oral cancer is a terrible disease. It is always a good idea to have your dentist give you an oral screening once a year. Your dentist could catch signs that you may not be able to. Delta Dental of Arkansas wrote a good overview of oral cancer on their blog – from diagnosis to treatment.

    http://www.deltadentalarblog.com/2012/04/the-oral-cancer-series-lets-face-the-facts/

    June 18, 2012 at 12:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. D'king

    Wow, that is the favorite of my wife, I have been doing it to her for 26 years should I stop now. My that's is one orgasm out. So tongue is out we just have only Mr. Dick to depend on. Good luck!

    June 4, 2013 at 01:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Maye Bogue

    More than 30 to 40 types of HPV are typically transmitted through sexual contact and infect the anogenital region. Some sexually transmitted HPV types may cause genital warts. Persistent infection with "high-risk" HPV types—different from the ones that cause skin warts—may progress to precancerous lesions and invasive cancer.^`:"

    Our webpage http://www.healthwellnessbook.comcp

    June 23, 2013 at 01:16 | Report abuse | Reply
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