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HPV-Caused Cancers On The Rise Among Canadian Men

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Incidences of mouth and throat cancers caused by the human papilloma virus or HPV have been on the rise over the past 20 years, especially among Canadian men, a new report from the Canadian Cancer Society states.

The report, released as part of this year’s Canadian Cancer Statistics itemization, adds that the growing rate of HPV-related mouth and throat cancers in men will soon surpass the rate of cervical cancer cases in women, CTV News says.

It has been a known fact that certain HPV strains can cause cervical cancer. But recent figures show that only 35% of HPV-caused cancers are cervical, and 33% occur in males. Around one-third of all HPV cancers in Canada are mouth and throat diagnoses. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the world.

From 1999 to 2012, the number of HPV mouth and throat cancers rose to 56% in men and 17% in women, the report says.

Doctors say that oropharyngeal cancers – those that affect the back of the throat, tonsils and base of the neck – and cancers of the mouth used to be more common in older patients who were heavy smokers and drinkers. But such cases are now more usual in younger, otherwise healthy patients.

In some patients, mouth and neck cancer treatments can greatly affect the ability to speak and eat. There are cases where parts of the tongues and voice boxes had to be removed to stop the cancer from spreading.

On the bright side, doctors say that HPV-related cancers are getting more treatable. Over 80% of patients can survive if the cancer is detected early and proper treatment is administered.

The Canadian Cancer Society predicts that close to 4,400 Canadians will be diagnosed with an HPV-caused cancer in 2016, and about 1,600 will die from them. It is now focused on improving immunization for the virus.

The HPV vaccine is available in government-funded school programs, available to girls across all provinces and territories. Only in six provinces is the vaccine given to boys, as well. The CCS is calling on the rest to expand immunization efforts to all, regardless of gender. The vaccine works best in people who have not been exposed to HPV, which is why it is given to school-age adolescents as a preventive measure.

The report further states that cancer is still the leading cause of death in the country, responsible for over 30% of all annual deaths.

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