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Sexually Transmitted HPV Linked to Certain Head & Neck Cancers
Date:5/22/2009

is, anus, or fingers.

HPV 16 and HPV 18 were previously identified as the cause of most cases of cervical cancer in the U.S. HPV has also been implicated in the development of some cancers of the vulva, vagina, anus, penis, and perineum (the area between the genitals and anus).

There is no cure for HPV, just as there is no cure for the common cold. In most people, an HPV infection will clear up on its own, but it can be passed on to other people during the infection period -- just as with the common cold.

In some cases, the person may continue to be infected for decades without any symptoms. During that time, the infected person can infect others without knowing it. Over time, this "silent," chronic HPV infection increases the risk of developing certain cancers.

In 2006, the FDA approved the use of Gardasil, a vaccine that protects against HPV 6, 11, 16 and 18, for females between the ages of 9 and 26, to help prevent cancers of the cervix, vulva, and vagina, as well as genital warts.

The FDA has not approved the vaccine for males. The issue of extending approval to males to protect against HPV related cancers is under review, with a decision expected in June 2009.

Loree, Popat, and their RPCI colleagues see compelling evidence for extending the vaccine's protection to boys. Says Popat, "The side effects of the vaccine are so small, and the potential benefits are great." He notes that patients with throat cancer "have to undergo major treatment lasting several months, with an additional four to six months of recovery. Their ability to speak and swallow is affected. Generally, they do very well; however, it is a long, challenging road."

Based on the evidence to date, Loree says that "with increased vaccination against HPV, you'll see a decrease in cervical cancer and in throat cancers." He says if everyone stopped smoking and using tobacco in any f
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SOURCE Roswell Park Cancer Institute
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