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HPV and Neck Cancer

September 24, 2007

HPV is best known for causing cervical cancer, but it may also be causing head and neck cancers in both sexes.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
More worries about a cancer-causing virus. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Young women can now be vaccinated against HPV, a sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer. But HPV may also put men at risk – for cancers of the pharynx, tonsils, and tongue. This according to Erich Sturgis of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. He notes that certain oral cancers are appearing more often in non-smokers, especially men under age 45. And an increasing proportion of these tumors contain HPV DNA – just like cervical tumors.

ERICH STURGIS (M.D. Anderson Cancer Center):
A component of the DNA gets incorporated into an epithelial cell, and that transforms that cell into a malignant cell.

HIRSHON:
It’s not yet known how common oral HPV infections are, or exactly how it is transmitted. But Sturgis says the data suggest that males might also benefit from a vaccine. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.