Australia sees rise in HPV-related head/neck cancer
Article Thumbnail ImageFebruary 4, 2011 -- Although tobacco- and alcohol-associated head and neck cancers are declining in many parts of the world, human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated oropharyngeal cancer rates are on the rise.
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Now, a new study finds that this trend is also prevalent in Australia (British Journal of Cancer, February 1, 2011).

A team of Australian researchers analyzed oropharyngeal and oral cavity cancer rates in Australia between 1982 and 2005. Cancers from the oropharynx were classified as potentially HPV-associated (n = 8,844); cancers in other oral cavity and oropharyngeal sites not previously associated with HPV were classified as comparison (n = 28,379).

From 2000 to 2005, they found that an average of 219, 159, and 110 cancers of the tonsil, base of tongue, and other oropharyngeal sites were diagnosed annually, with incidences of 1.09, 0.79, and 0.55 per 100,000, respectively. From 1982 to 2005, there were significant annual increases in tonsil (1.39%) and base of tongue cancers in males (3.02%) and base of tongue cancers in females (3.45%).

Potentially HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancer in Australia is increasing, and the effect of HPV vaccination on these cancers should be monitored, the researchers concluded.

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