By Donna Domino
July 14, 2011 — With the alarming rise in the rate of oropharyngeal cancer among men being linked to the human papillomavirus (HPV), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is considering whether to also recommend the HPV vaccine for boys.
Two vaccines (Cervarix and Gardasil) are currently available to protect females against the HPV types that cause most cervical cancers. The CDC currently recommends both for 11- and 12-year-old girls and for females 13 through 26 years old who did not get the three recommended doses when they were younger.
The number of HPV-related oral cancers cases among men in the U.S. is increasing so quickly they could surpass the number of cases of cervical cancers in women by 2020, according to research presented last month at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting in Chicago.
Between 1984 and 1989, only 16% of oropharyngeal cancers were linked to HPV. But by 2000-2004, HPV was related to 75% of oropharyngeal cancers, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI). In 2010, the institute estimated that there were 12,660 cases of oropharyngeal cancer, resulting in 2,410 deaths. About half of those cases were among males and at least 75% were caused by HPV, according to NCI researchers.
Several studies and oral cancer specialists have attributed the sharp rise in HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancers to an increasing prevalence of oral sex among young people.
For the past few years, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has been mulling whether to recommend the HPV vaccine for boys, as is now suggested for girls and young women to prevent cervical cancer.
At the ACIP’s June meeting in Atlanta, the panel again discussed the issue, including the cost-effectiveness for male vaccination. The 15-member group did not vote on the matter, but it is expected to do so when it meets again in October.
More research needed?
[Note from SaneVax: More research needed? You bet! The CDC and FDA should still be demanding more research on whether HPV vaccines are safe, affordable, necessary and effective for girls/women, much less boys/men! Let’s hope the public input exerts enough pressure to make it so. ]