HPV blamed for cancer spike in men

Doctors have confirmed a significant increase in the rate of head, neck and throat cancers linked to HPV – in men.

According to a new study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, neck and throat cancers that tested positive for the human papilloma virus rose a staggering 225% between 1998 and 2004.

Researchers believe the incidence of such cancers – which men typically contract as a result of oral sex – will surpass that of cervical cancer within the next decade.

However, as MSNBC’s Brian Alexander notes, HPC’s role in causing oropharyngeal and anal cancer isn’t often publicized, as medical organizations, the government and academics are wary about debating various sex practices.

So what can be done?

Dr. James Turner, a past president of the American College Health Association and a liaison to the Advisory Committee on Immunization practices, believes all young men should be vaccinated against HPV.

But Dr. Gregory Masters, an expert with the American Society of Clinical Oncology, believes the public is still too “squeamish” to accept blanket HPV vaccinations.

“When we get more comfortable as a society with the whole discussion of sexually-related cancer, then you will, I think, see us saying it makes a lot of sense for all boys and girls to get vaccinated,” Masters told MSNBC.

“I am not, as a representative of ASCO (American Society of Clinical Oncology), saying we recommend it, but I think such recommendations are forthcoming. [In the meantime], patients should be encouraged to minimize behaviors that put them at risk.”

Indeed, Dr. Tina Dalianis, a professor at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden who was not involved in the above-mentioned research, told Reuters the increase in oral cancers “is due to an HPV epidemic.”

“We believe that sexual habits have changed, and that there is an increase in sexual activity earlier on in life, with an exchange of many more sex partners in general.”