Research

Roundup: 1 in 9 U.S. Men Have Oral HPV With Higher Cancer Risk

About 11 million American men are infected with oral human papillomavirus (HPV), which can lead to cancers of the head, neck and throat, a new study reports. That’s about 1 in 9 males aged 18 to 69.

More than three times as many men than women in the U.S. have oral infections with HPV, which is a virus responsible for 31,500 new cancers every year, the study says. The HPV strain that causes the majority of HPV-related cancers in the U.S. occurred orally six times more often in men than in women, the research shows.

Funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the study estimates that 11.5 million men and 3.2 million women have oral HPV infections. The highest risk strain, HPV-16, was found in 1.8 percent of men and 0.3 percent of women between ages 18-69, representing about 1.7 million men and 270,000 women.

HPV is the most common virus transmitted through intimate or sexual contact. Nearly all people who have been sexually active have had an HPV infection, according to NCI. Most HPV infections resolve without any symptoms. But some strains can develop into cancer. An estimated 3 percent of U.S. women’s cancer cases and 2 percent of all U.S. men’s cancer cases are caused by high-risk HPV. There are over 100 types of HPV, of which at least 13 have been discovered to be cancer-causing.

The virus causes nearly all cervical cancers and 95 percent of anal cancers. The high-risk HPV strains cause at least half of all vaginal and vulvar cancers and about a third of penile cancers. One of the fastest growing types of HPV-related cancer is oropharyngeal cancer, which develops at the back of the throat. HPV causes about 70 percent of all oropharyngeal cancers in the U.S. These are the cancers most likely to develop from oral HPV.

The increasing rate of HPV infections among men may be the reason why throat cancers in men are now more common than cervical cancer in women, according to senior study author Ashish Deshmukh, a public health researcher at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

“We have the HPV vaccine approved for use in both boys and girls, which has the potential to decrease rates of HPV-associated cancers in the future,” Deshmukh said. “But the low uptake of the vaccine among boys and disparities in the uptake remain a concern.”

In the U.S., the HPV vaccine is recommended for children at age 11 or 12 to protect them against the virus before they become sexually active, and also for teens and young adults who may not have previously been vaccinated.

For the study, researchers looked at nationally-representative survey data from 4,493 men and 4,641 women. Most people get over HPV infections without ever knowing they had them. HPV doesn’t cause any symptoms. But in some people, it stays in the infected tissues and causes DNA damage that can generate cancerous tumors years later.

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Colorectal Cancer Rates Rising in Women Under 50

The rate of colorectal cancer cases has been decreasing among Americans older than 50, but rates are rising among those younger than 50, researchers reported this week.

The rates are particularly higher for women under 50, according to the report presented at the World Congress of Gastroenterology in Orlando.

The findings suggest that screenings target adults youger than currently recommended, at least some individuals who are at higher risk for colorectal cancers, such as those with a family history of the disease.

From 2000 to 2014, the incidence rate reported to the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) database declined among those over the age of 50, with an average annual percentage decrease of 3.3 percent. For those younger than 50, there was an annual percentage increase of 1.4 percent, according to Anas Raed, M.D., of Augusta University in Augusta, Georgia.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer and second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men and women in the United States.

This study targeted rates of colorectal cancer based on age, sex, race and location of the primary tumor, with data adjusted to the year 2000. The data examined included 604,033 patients, with 544,430 being older than 50 at the time of diagnosis and 59,603 being younger than 50. Of these, 52.7 percent were men, 74 percent were white, 14.6 percent were black and 11.4 percent were of other race/ethnicity.

In the younger age group, the increased incidence was greater among women, with an average annual percentage change of 1.6 percent, compared with men, whose average annual change was 1.1 percent.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends screenings for colorectal cancer begin at age 50 for most adults. For adults at higher-than-normal risk, screenings are recommended at an earlier age, especially if there is a family history of colon or rectal cancer.

A separate report released earlier this year by the American Cancer Society (ACS) found that young people have double the risk of colon cancer and quadruple the risk of rectal cancer — compared with baby boomers (the generation born between 1946 and 1964). For adults ages 20 to 39, colon cancer rates increased by 1 percent to 2 percent per year through 2013, according to the research. In adults 40 to 54, rates increased by 0.5 percent to 1 percent per year from the mid-1990s through 2013.

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