Dispatch: Get Vaccinated!

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According to U.S. researchers, there are an estimated 11,300 throat cancer cases attributable to human papilloma virus (HPV) annually, although the government does not formally track the incidence rate since the connection between HPV and throat cancer was only made in the past few years. The rate is expected to rise since people have more sexual partners now than in decades past.

“Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the connection between HPV and throat cancer since it is so underreported. I’m especially concerned for kids who engage in oral sexual activities under the mistaken belief that this is ‘safe sex,’ and it’s not,” warns ACSH's Dr. Elizabeth Whelan.

Though also alarmed by the increasing rate of throat cancer caused by infection with HPV, ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross was more perturbed to learn that drug makers are resistant to study the use of HPV vaccines — now used to prevent cervical cancer in women and anal warts in males — for the prevention of oral cancer. “I was disconcerted to read that the two manufacturers of the HPV vaccine, Merck and GlaxoSmithKline, are not interested in pursuing this topic of prevention,” laments Dr. Ross. “Since there is no easy way to detect pre-cancers in the oral cavity, a clinical trial could take 10 to 20 years to complete. However, it is obvious that eliminating the virus through the use of vaccination would stop our current epidemic.”