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HPV/Genital Warts Health Center

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HPV Linked to Throat Cancer

Oral Sex Is Major Risk Factor

Vaccination’s Role Unclear

It is not yet clear if the HPV vaccine now approved for the prevention of cervical cancer in women can also prevent HPV-driven throat cancer or other malignancies that have been linked to HPV infection, including those of the anus, vagina, and penis.

“There is every reason to believe that it will, but we don’t know that yet,” Gillison says.

Debbie Saslow, PhD, of the American Cancer Society tells WebMD that if the vaccine is proven safe and effective in boys and young men, the indications for its use will grow.

“It is everybody’s hope that the vaccine will eventually decrease the incidence of many types of cancer,” she says.

Gillison says the main message from the current research is to doctors who may not suspect head and neck cancer in patients without a history of heavy smoking and drinking.

“This expands our idea of who might be at risk for head and neck cancers,” she says. “There is a proven survival benefit to catching these cancers early, so recognizing that people without traditional risk factors may still be at risk is important.”


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