New study on increases in throat cancers from HPV.

Posted by Rob Christensen on 10/7/2011 to Head & Neck Cancer, Radiation Therapy
A new study estimates that throat cancers have increased by 325% from 1998 to 2004. Doctors connect the increase to HPV, the virus that causes cervical cancer, and which a new vaccine has stirred controversy.

Published in The Journal of Clinical Oncology, the new study "is the first definitive evidence that these changes at the population level are indeed caused by HPV infection,” said Dr. Maura L. Gillison, the senior author of the new study and the chairwoman of cancer research at Ohio State University.

The tumors, or oropharyngeal cancers, that HPV cause, are most often seen at the base of the tongue, and inside the mouth and throat, including the tonsils and soft palate.  These cancers are more treatable than those caused by tobacco use, and are inexplicably more often seen in men. 

There is no "pap-smear" for oropharyngeal cancers like there is for the cervix, and the virus-related oral, mouth, tongue and throat cancers are usually only found once symptoms appear. 

Treatments include chemotherapy, surgery and radiation, and often have serious side-effects including xerostomia or dry mouth, swallowing problems, and trismus (lockjaw).

Link:
New York Times Story
Study in Journal of Clinical Oncology

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