Oropharyngeal Cancer Links to HPV Detailed

Anita T. Shaffer @Shaffer1
Published: Tuesday, Mar 12, 2013

Figure. Snapshot of HPV-Related Cancers1

HPV Cancers

The pie chart depicts overall number of new cases of human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated cancers by body site in the US in 2009.

The patterns characterizing oropharyngeal cancers associated with the human papillomavirus (HPV) are bucking broad trends in oncology statistics in the United States⎯and not in a positive way, according to the Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer.1

While overall cancer rates have declined among men and stabilized among women, the rate of oropharyngeal cancers is on the rise, the report indicated. Researchers based their observations on data from several federal registries for 1975 through 2009.

Investigators found that HPV DNA was detected in 71.7% of oropharyngeal tumors diagnosed from 2000- 2004, up from 16.3% from 1984-1989. ”The increasing trend for HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancer rates is in stark contrast with the overall decreasing trend for tobacco-related oropharyngeal cancers, largely because of declines in cigarette smoking,” the report said.

In further analysis, researchers noted that the increase in HPV-related oropharyngeal cancers stems from a rise of the malignancy among white men and women. They said the reasons for this development are unclear, and pointed out that there is a paucity of historical data about the infection, and about the tumor type by race and ethnicity.

Overall, HPV-associated malignancies accounted for 3.3% of all cancer cases among women and 2.0% among men diagnosed in 2009, the report said. Oropharyngeal cancers comprised 78.2% of HPV-related cancer in men and 11.6% for women. The virus also causes cancers of the cervix, anus, vagina, vulva, and penis (Figure).

Although the impact of HPV is on the rise, vaccination rates continue to lag, with only about 32% of girls age 13 to 17 years receiving all three doses in 2010, approximately four years after the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended its adoption for adolescent girls. ACIP added vaccination recommendations for adolescent boys and young men in 2011.

The report was produced through a collaboration of the American Cancer Society, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Cancer Institute, and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries.
1. Jemal A, Simard EP, Dorell C, et al. Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975-2009, Featuring the Burden and Trends in Human Papillomavirus (HPV)-Associated Cancers and HPV Vaccination Coverage Levels [published online ahead of print January 7, 2013]. J Natl Cancer Inst. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djs491.

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