San Francisco Chronicle, By Kathryn Roethel
When most people think of throat or oral cancers, they probably believe they are not at risk unless they are smokers or heavy drinkers. But that's not necessarily the case. According to Bay Area doctors and a new national study, the incidence of tobacco- and alcohol-related throat cancers is down. On the rise is another type of throat cancer for which more Americans may be at risk - one associated with the sexually transmitted human
papillomavirus commonly known for causing cervical cancer in women.
Dr. Michael Kaplan, chief of head and neck surgery at Stanford University Medical Center, said he sees about 125 new cases of oral and throat cancer each year, and "the vast majority" are cases associated with HPV. Perhaps more surprising, this type of cancer is much more common in men than in women.
Kaplan's experience correlates with a National Cancer Institute study released in June at the American Society of Clinical Oncology's annual scientific meeting. In it, researchers found that throat and oral cancers linked to HPV increased more than 200 percent between 1988 and 2004 - from 0.8 occurrences per 100,000 people to 2.8 per 100,000.
In the same time period, throat and oral cancers related to tobacco and alcohol use were down 50 percent, from 2 to 1 case per 100,000 people.
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