COMMENTARY

Oral HPV Infection Rate Is Alarmingly High in US Men

Maurie Markman, MD

Disclosures

January 25, 2018

Hello. I am Dr Maurie Markman from Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I want to briefly discuss a very important—and, quite frankly, a very distressing—paper that appeared in the November 21, 2017, issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine. The title of the paper is "Oral Human Papillomavirus Infection: Differences in Prevalence Between Sexes and Concordance With Genital Human Papillomavirus Infection."[1]

This paper reports a population-based analysis of adults aged 18-69 years who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2011 to 2014. Specimens had been obtained from these individuals from a variety of locations in the body, looking specifically at the prevalence of oral human papillomavirus (HPV). The study demonstrated that 11.5% of men and 3.2% women in this analysis had HPV Infection. This translates to 11 million men and 3.2 million women nationally with HPV infection, an extremely serious concern. Looking at oral HPV 16, the prevalence was six times more common in men than in women, or 1.7 million men and 270,000 women in the United States with oral HPV 16 infection.

The potential seriousness specifically related to the increase in head and neck cancers in the United States associated with HPV infection, particularly in men, cannot be overstated. The enormous potential value for the individual and for society, related to HPV vaccination to prevent persistent infection, cannot be overstated. This study should alarm all of us. I hope it will be an important wake-up call for physicians, for health policy experts, for all members of our society, and for the government to understand the importance of HPV vaccination for men and women—and in this case, for the prevention of a cancer that occurs more in men than in women and which is absolutely related to HPV infection.

Although the data are still not in in terms of prevention of head and neck cancers related to vaccination, the data on cervical cancer are reassuring. If this vaccination is in widespread use in our young men and women, it will prevent serious cancer from developing.

I encourage you to read this very important paper. Thank you for your attention.

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