Human papillomavirus, or HPV, has recently been linked to some types of head and neck cancer that are becoming more prominent in the United States, mostly among men. Patients infected with oral HPV type 16 have a 14 times greater risk of developing one of these cancers, which usually form on the tonsils and at the back of the tongue.
The correlation between HPV and oral cancer was only established in 2007, so it is not well understood how to detect or prevent these cancers.
Researchers sought to understand how prevalent oral HPV is in the U.S. and to understand the factors associated with infection. Data was collected from 5,579 men and women who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention between 2009 and 2010. It was found that 7 percent of the U.S. population between ages 14 and 69 had an oral HPV infection, with the infection being three times more common in men than women, 10.1 percent vs. 3.6 percent, respectively.
About 1 percent of the population had an HPV 16 infection, with it being five times more common in men than women, correlating with the higher incidence of HPV-related cancer in men than women. Researchers do not yet know why the infection is more common in men than women in the first place.
“This study of oral HPV infection is the critical first step toward developing potential oropharyngeal cancer prevention strategies,” Maura Gillison, MD, PhD, lead author of the study and the Jeg Coughlin Chair of Cancer Research at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, said. “This is clearly important because HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancer is poised to overtake cervical cancer as the leading type of HPV-caused cancers in the U.S. And, we currently do not have another means by which to prevent or detect these cancers early.”
The abstract, “Prevalence of oral HPV infection in United States, 2009-2010,” will be presented on Thursday, January 26, 2012. To speak with one of the study authors, contact Beth Bukata or Nicole Napoli on January 26-27, 2012, in the press room at the Arizona Biltmore at 602-912-7854 or 703-839-7336.
About the American Head and Neck Society
The American Head and Neck Society (AHNS) is the single largest organization in North America for the advancement of research and education in head and neck oncology. The purpose of the AHNS is to promote and advance the knowledge of prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of neoplasms and other diseases of the head and neck; to promote and advance research in diseases of the head and neck; and to promote and advance the highest professional and ethical standards.
About the American Society of Clinical Oncology
The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is the world’s leading professional organization representing physicians who care for people with cancer. With more than 30,000 members, ASCO is committed to improving cancer care through scientific meetings, educational programs and peer-reviewed journals. ASCO is supported by its affiliate organization, the Conquer Cancer Foundation, which funds ground-breaking research and programs that make a tangible difference in the lives of people with cancer. For ASCO information and resources, visit www.asco.org. Patient-oriented cancer information is available at www.cancer.net.
About the American Society for Radiation Oncology
The American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) is the largest radiation oncology society in the world, with more than 10,000 members who specialize in treating patients with radiation therapies. As the leading organization in radiation oncology, biology and physics, the Society is dedicated to improving patient care through education, clinical practice, advancement of science and advocacy. For more information on radiation therapy, visit www.rtanswers.org. To learn more about ASTRO, visit www.astro.org.
About SNM—Advancing Molecular Imaging and Therapy
SNM is an international scientific and medical organization dedicated to raising public awareness about what molecular imaging is and how it can help provide patients with the best health care possible. SNM members specialize in molecular imaging, a vital element of today’s medical practice that adds an additional dimension to diagnosis, changing the way common and devastating diseases are understood and treated.