Monday, June 4, 2007

Who Knew? HPV Vaccine Considered for Males

Although males can’t get HPV-linked cervical cancer caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) virus, they are believed to be half the equation in the transmission of that disease and a new study released three weeks ago, shows that the virus is also a leading cause of throat cancer, which effects both sexes.

Dr. Michael Bookman, director of medical gynecologic oncology at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia said, "This is a viral infectious process, and the majority of the time it is passed through heterosexual contact. And I think it's important to consider boys as equal players in that process."

"Boys are not as prone to (HPV-linked) cancer as girls, but they are obviously involved in the transmission, and there is some risk of cancer in boys, as well," he added.

No one’s debating the effectiveness of the vaccine, called Gardasil. The shot is targeted against the four strains (out of 15) of HPV that are thought to trigger 70 percent of cervical cancers.

Reporting last week in the New England Journal of Medicine, a team of researchers at Johns Hopkins University confirmed that infection with HPV via oral sex is by far the leading cause of throat cancer, which strikes 11,000 American men and women each year. HPV is also a major cause of anal cancer and genital warts, both of which affect either sex.

The threat of throat cancer is especially troubling, Bookman said, because doctors traditionally only look for these malignancies in long-time smokers and drinkers. "Head and neck exams are more associated with smoking and alcohol and less associated with HPV, although that's changing," he said.

Hmmmm, aside from the most common STDs (Syphilis and Gonorrhea , etc), there's also a wider aray of viral STDs, including AIDS, Herpes, genital warts, cervical and throat cancer via HPV's a good thing we're dismissing abstinence before marriage, out of hand, as a means to avoiding these plagues.

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