The incidence of mouth and throat cancers caused by the human papilloma virus in men has now surpassed the incidence of HPV-related cervical cancers in women, researchers report.
The study, in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that 11 million men and 3.2 million women in the United States had oral HPV infections. Among them, 7 million men and 1.4 million women had strains that can cause cancers of the throat, tongue and other areas of the head and neck.
The risk of infection was higher for smokers, for people who have had multiple sex partners, and for men who have sex with men. Frequent oral sex also increased the risk. The rate was higher among men who also had genital HPV. (Almost half of men aged 18 to 60 have a genital HPV infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)
Neither age nor income made a difference in high-risk oral infection rates, but rates among non-Hispanic blacks were higher than other races and ethnicities.
HPV vaccination is recommended starting at age 11 or 12 and is effective, said the senior author, Ashish A. Deshmukh, an assistant professor at the University of Florida, and “it’s crucial that parents vaccinate boys as well as girls.”
The lead author, Kalyani Sonawane, also at the University of Florida, said that behavioral change is important, too, particularly smoking cessation. “The difference in oral HPV infection between smokers and nonsmokers is staggering,” she said.