Human papilloma virus is known as the major cause of almost all cervical cancers and some vaginal, penile and vulvar cancers. What is alarming health care professional is a rapid increase in the number of cases of oropharyngeal cancers, which are also caused by high-risk HPVs. A newly formed Throat Cancer Foundation is suggesting that vaccinating all children aged 12 and older could prevent this new threat.
What is high-risk human papilloma virus?
There are more than 150 human papilloma viruses or HPVs. Most of them are harmless and the worst that they can do is cause warts. But, about 30 of them increase your risk of cancer. They easily spread through direct physical contact during vaginal, oral and anal sex.
More than half people who are sexually active are infected by one or more HPVs and most of them have no symptoms. Infections caused by HPV are the most common sexually transmitted infections among Americans.
At any time, 42.5 percent of women have genital HPV infections, and about 7 percent of adults have oral HPV infections.
While there is no cure for HPV, two vaccines are now recommended and approved by the The Food and Drug Administration: Cervarix, for the prevention of genital warts, both in males and females, and Gardasil ® for the prevention of cervical, anal, vulvar, and vaginal cancers. Vaccines are recommended for girls, and are particularly effective if taken before the girls become sexually active. They are not yet recommended for boys younger than 26 for the cancer prevention. The vaccines are also not approved for the prevention of oropharyngeal cancer, although this type of cancer is also linked to HPV-16, the same one which causes most cervical cancers.
Boys not protected
New charity Throat Cancer Foundation stresses that human papilloma virus infections are the ‘ticking time bomb’ and that throat cancer is the fastest growing male cancer. The organization believes that the vaccine that is currently recommended for girls to prevent cervical cancer should also be used to protect boy from the fast growing throat cancer. Girls are currently routinely vaccinated against HPV in many countries, but boys are not, what means that they are being exposed to a virus that can put them at high risk of penile and throat cancers.
The charity is backed by a group of over 150 influential medical experts, who warn that urgent action is necessary before the rate of throat cancer caused by the HPV reaches epidemic proportions. If nothing is being done, they believe that by 2020 there will be more cases of oropharyngeal cancer than cervical cancer.