Although cervical cancers are on the decline in the United States and Canada, other cancers linked to human papillomavirus (HPV) are increasing. According to a new Canadian study, anal and oropharyngeal (in the back of the mouth or throat) cancers have increased over the past 35 years. The most common victims are those aged around 40 or so.
"The increases in the incidence of oropharyngeal cancer among younger men and of anal cancer among younger women are disturbing, because there are no screening programs for early detection of these cancers," study co-author Dr. Lorraine Shack said in a press release, as reported by Headlines & Global News. Shack is an assistant professor of oncology at the University of Calgary's Cumming School of Medicine.
HPV, a sexually transmitted virus, may cause 5.2 percent of all cancers around the world. The link between HPV and oropharyngeal and anal cancers was only recently confirmed, according to the study. The study was published in the online journal CMAJ Open.
The Canadian researchers analyzed data from the Alberta Cancer Registry in order to monitor trends in human papillomavirus (HPV) cancers that were diagnosed between 1975 and 2009. They identified 8,120 cases. Of those cases, 56 percent were cervical cancers and 18 percent were oropharyngeal cancers.
The study analysis showed that a number of the cancer cases were observed in people between 55 and 74 years of age. But, the team found that highest increase in oropharyngeal cancers was seen in men under 45 years of age.
Researchers in separate studies estimate that if the rise in HPV oropharyngeal cancer continues, there will be more of these cases than cervical cancers by the year 2020.
Another revelation was finding that anal cancer among women has doubled, going from 0.7 to 1.5 for every 100,000 people.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all boys and girls aged 11 or 12 should get vaccinated against HPV.
Education and vaccination programs are necessary, said Dr. Harold Lau, study co-author and clinical associate professor of oncology at the University of Calgary.