HPV-related head & neck cancers rising, highest in middle-aged white men

March 29, 2012

Research led by Lauren Cole, a public health graduate student, and Dr. Edward Peters, Associate Professor of Public Health and Director of the Epidemiology Program at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans, reports that the incidence of head and neck cancer has risen at sites associated with Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection, with the greatest increase among middle-aged white men. At the same time, younger, Non-Hispanic blacks experienced a substantial decrease in these cancers. They also found that the disease process for tumors associated with HPV is different from those caused by exposure to tobacco and alcohol, with implications for treatment. The findings are published this month in the PLoS ONE journal.

Tobacco and alcohol are the most common risk factors for cancers of the head and neck, but HPV infection is emerging as an important risk factor as well. The objectives of this study were to assess the recent incidence of in the United States and to investigate the trends of these cancers associated with HPV infection.

Using incidence data for 1995-2005 from 40 US population-based cancer registries, the researchers described the epidemiology of head and (HNC) in the US and examined the variation in by age, sex, race/ethnicity, stage and cancer location. As some HNC sites are strongly associated with a tendency for HPV infection, they also examined if rates varied by those sites associated with HPV.

"During 1995-2005, we observed a significant overall increase in head and neck among HPV-associated sites, while in the same time period, non HPV-associated sites underwent a significant decline in incidence," notes Lauren Cole, an Epidemiology PhD student at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans School of Public Health.

The researchers found overall, younger age groups, Non-Hispanic Whites and Hispanics experienced greater increases in incidence for HPV-associated sites, while incidence declined for Non-Hispanic Blacks independent of HPV-association of site. The evidence from this large population-based study suggests that since the disease process for HPV-associated tumors is different, HPV tumor status should be incorporated into treatment decisions for head and neck cancer patients to improve prognosis and survival.

"With the introduction of the HPV vaccine, this study suggests that the vaccine can not only be used to help prevent cervical cancer, but head and neck cancer as well," adds Dr. Edward Peters, Associate Professor and Director of the Epidemiology Program at the LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans School of Public Health.

Head and neck cancer includes cancer in the nasal cavity, sinuses, lips, mouth, salivary glands, throat, or larynx (voice box). According to the National Cancer Institute, head and neck cancers account for approximately 3 percent of all cancers in the United States. These cancers are nearly twice as common among men as they are among women. Head and neck cancers are also diagnosed more often among people over age 50 than they are among younger people. More than 52,000 men and women in this country were expected to be diagnosed with head and neck cancers last year.

Explore further: Oral HPV infection, HPV-related cancers more common in men

Related Stories

Oral HPV infection, HPV-related cancers more common in men

January 26, 2012
Oral HPV infection is more common among men than women, explaining why men are more prone than women to develop an HPV related head and neck cancer, according to a study presented at the Multidisciplinary Head and Neck Cancer ...

Recommended for you

Study may explain failure of retinoic acid trials against breast cancer

July 25, 2017
Estrogen-positive breast cancers are often treated with anti-estrogen therapies. But about half of these cancers contain a subpopulation of cells marked by the protein cytokeratin 5 (CK5), which resists treatment—and breast ...

Physical activity could combat fatigue, cognitive decline in cancer survivors

July 25, 2017
A new study indicates that cancer patients and survivors have a ready weapon against fatigue and "chemo brain": a brisk walk.

Breaking the genetic resistance of lung cancer and melanoma

July 25, 2017
Researchers from Monash University and the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC, New York) have discovered why some cancers – particularly lung cancer and melanoma – are able to quickly develop deadly resistance ...

New therapeutic approach for difficult-to-treat subtype of ovarian cancer identified

July 24, 2017
A potential new therapeutic strategy for a difficult-to-treat form of ovarian cancer has been discovered by Wistar scientists. The findings were published online in Nature Cell Biology.

Immune cells the missing ingredient in new bladder cancer treatment

July 24, 2017
New research offers a possible explanation for why a new type of cancer treatment hasn't been working as expected against bladder cancer.

Anti-cancer chemotherapeutic agent inhibits glioblastoma growth and radiation resistance

July 24, 2017
Glioblastoma is a primary brain tumor with dismal survival rates, even after treatment with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. A small subpopulation of tumor cells—glioma stem cells—is responsible for glioblastoma's ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.