HPV Vaccine Could Reduce Throat Cancer Risk

Melissa Stusinski

The HPV vaccine could also help lower the risk of throat cancer, according to a recent study from Costa Rica. While the study doesn't prove the theory, it does show that those who were vaccinated against two strains of the HPV virus had 93 percent less throat infections four years later.

The HPV is strongly linked to throat cancer, making it likely that a vaccine against it would reduce the risk of the malignancies. However, it isn't known if a study could even be done to prove the theory.

While the HPV is traditionally given only to women, its link to reduced throat cancer is a good argument to administer it to men as well, notes NPR.

Two HPV vaccines are currently approved by the FDA to prevent cervical cancer in women and anal cancer in men. While there are more than 100 types of HPV, it is thought that two strains are the most likely to cause cancer.

BBC reports that HPV-16 is thought to be responsible for about 60 percent of cervical cancers, 80 percent of anal cancers, and 60 percent of oral cancers.

The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, looked at HPV's link with oropharyngeal cancer, or cancer of the back of the throat. they compared blood test results for 135 people who developed throat cancer and 1,599 of those who didn't.

The study showed that a key HPV protein, E6, was present in 35 percent of those with throat cancer and just one percent of those who were cancer-free. It also showed that 84 percent of those with antibodies were alive five years after their throat cancer diagnosis. This means that, HPV-caused throat cancer patients are more likely to survive than those whose disease had another cause.

Dr. Ruth Travis, a Cancer Research UK scientist at Oxford who helped work on the study, explained of the results. "These striking results provide some evidence that HPV-16 infection may be a significant cause of oropharyngeal cancer."

That means that a vaccine for HPV could also be a vaccine to help prevent throat cancer.

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