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HPV Causing Cancer In Men: July 14, 2012

Cervical cancer may be the most common cancer linked to HPV, but it is not the only one. As it turns out, men are at higher risk to get another form of cancer from the same virus.

The human papillomavirus - it’s most closely linked to women and cervical cancer.

“HPV, there are 140 different types; some are low-risk, some are high-risk. The high-risk types are known to cause almost all cervical cancers,” says Dr. Kevin Fleishman, a gynecologist on Lee Memorial Health System's medical staff.

Studies show that half of all American men are infected with HPV and it puts them at greater risk of cancer too.

“Absolutely, more and more cancers have been shown to be associated with the HPV virus,” says Dr. Fleishman.

Among them are head and neck cancers.

“Many of these cancers are caused by HPV. Prior to 15, 18 years ago, probably 90 to 95 percent of my new cancer patients were smokers. But now about 45 percent are non-smokers and the majority of those are caused by HPV,” says Dr. Phillip Andrews, an otolaryngologist on the medical staff of Lee Memorial Health System.

Two-thirds of cancers of the tongue and tonsils are caused by HPV and 80 percent of those cases are found in men. If caught early, the prognosis is good.

“Some of the smaller cancers in the base of the tongue and tonsils we’ll treat with radiation alone, particularly if it’s HPV related,” says Dr. Andrews.

The HPV vaccine was originally promoted as a ‘girls’ vaccine.  Since then, the CDC recommended it for boys as well. And not just to stop the spread of cervical cancer but to keep them safe, too.

“If we prevent the transmission of the virus, then we can prevent the cancer,” says Dr. Fleishman.

If you have questions about HPV or the vaccine, consult your doctor.