* Cases of certain head and neck cancers rising rapidly
* Virus spread through oral sex appears to account for rise
* Study suggests vaccination should also be offered to boys
By Kate Kelland
LONDON, March 26 (Reuters) – The number of serious head and neck cancers linked to a virus spread by oral sex is rising rapidly and suggests boys as well as girls should be offered protection through vaccination, doctors said on Friday.
Despite an overall slight decline in most head and neck cancers in recent years, cases of a particular form called oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) have increased sharply, particularly in the developed world.
This growth seems to be linked to cancers caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), the scientists said in a report in the British Medical Journal.
Two vaccines — Cervarix, made by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L), and Gardasil, made by Merck & Co (MRK.N) — can prevent HPV, which causes virtually all cases of cervical cancer, the second most common cancer in women worldwide.
Many rich nations have launched HPV immunisation programmes for girls to try to protect them from the common sexually transmitted virus before they become sexually active.
The scientists, led by Hisham Mehanna of the Institute of Head and Neck Studies at Britain’s University Hospital Coventry, said that while including boys in immunisation plans was previously seen as too expensive, it may be time to look again.
“We need to look at the evidence again to re-evaluate the cost-effectiveness of male children in light of this new and rapidly rising incidence,” he said in a telephone interview.
More than 500,000 cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed annually in women and it kills around 200,000 a year. Head and neck cancer is the sixth most common cancer among men and women, with about 640,000 new cases each year worldwide.
A recent study found the risk of developing oropharyngeal carcinoma was linked to a history of six or more lifetime sexual partners, four or more lifetime oral sex partners, and, for men, an earlier age at first sexual intercourse.
“Sexual transmission of HPV — primarily through orogenital intercourse — might be the reason for the increase in incidence of HPV related oropharyngeal carcinoma,” wrote Mehanna.
The experts pointed to recent studies which showed a 70 percent increase in the detection of HPV in biopsies taken to diagnose oropharyngeal carcinoma in Stockholm since the 1970s.
HPV-related cancer was also reported in 60 to 80 percent of recent biopsy samples in studies in the United States, compared with 40 percent in the previous decade, they wrote.
Mehanna said the findings had other important health implications. Patients with HPV-related head and neck cancers are typically younger and employed, he said, and because their tumours appear to be less deadly than those caused by factors like smoking and drinking, patients may also live longer with the physical and psychological effects of treatment.
“This means they would need prolonged support from health, social, and other services, and may require help in returning to work,” he wrote. (Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton)
I could not get my comment to post on Reuters so I will post it here. Either the author or the editor need to get their facts straight or get out of Merck’s pants.
According to OncoLink
This puts cervical cancer as the 12th most common cancer that women develop, and the 14th most common cause of cancer death for women in the U.S. However, cervical cancer is the 2nd most common cause of cancer death in developing nations, with about 370,000 new cases annually having a 50% mortality rate. There has been a 75% decrease in incidence and mortality from cervical cancer in developed nations over the past 50 years. Most of this decrease is attributed to the effective institution of cervical cancer screening programs in the wealthier nations.
This is different than what it stated in the article above. Talk about spreading fear. And to think that a respected paper would let them get away with this.
And according to the 2008 American Society Stats (pg.4) cervical cancer will affect 11,00 women (with a 50% mortality rate) out of the 274,000 men and women that will get genital cancers this year.
Let’s see with 18,000 adverse reactions to the HPV Vaccines that means that there are more reactions than there are cases of cervical cancer. Diane Harper was right when she said this.