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Can HPV Shots Reduce Oral Cancer Costs?

By vaccinating teenage boys against the HPV virus—human papillomavirus—could the chances of head and neck cancers be less likely to occur? T...

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|Apr 14|magazine6 min read

By vaccinating teenage boys against the HPV virus—human papillomavirus—could the chances of head and neck cancers be less likely to occur? That seems to be what new research is showing.

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Learning about HPV

Many associate HPV as a sexually transmitted virus that can eventually cause cervical cancer and/or genital warts. However, human papillomavirus has been connected with other types of cancers, too, including anal, vulvar and oropharyngeal. Oropharyngeal cancer is known for forming in the throat, around the tonsils and at the back of the tongue.

Once believed to have mainly been caused due to smoking and drinking, experts in the industry have been searching for other explanations for head and neck cancer, as the number of heterosexual males who have been diagnosed with such has not only increased, but spiked.

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In this new study, researchers applied a statistical model to more than 190,000 Canadian boys who were the age of 12 back in 2012. The conclusion was that the vaccination could save anywhere from $8 to $28 million Canadian dollars over the boys’ lifespan—depending on the effectiveness of the vaccines, as well as how many boys actually received it.

Dr. Lillian Siu, the author of the study and senior medical oncologist at Princess Margaret Cancer Center, notes that while this is just a model or test, the ultimate goal is to simply raise awareness and then develop a dialogue.

As of now, there are over 100 types of HPV—13 different types that can cause cancer. HPV is noted as being the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States.

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