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HPV Vaccine Could Shifts Rates of Non-Cervical Cancers


Jan 12, 2022 – A recent headline about dramatic reductions in cervical cancer among young women as a result of the HPV vaccine tells the full story of how vaccination also affects many other types of cancer.

Even with the good news of significantly lower rates of cervical cancer, HPV is still linked to a wide range of other cancers, says Daniel Kelly, MD, co-chair of the European Cancer Organization’s HPV Action Network.

HPV is also associated with cancers of the anus, penis, vagina, vulva, and throat, the rates of which have increased in recent years.

Because the HPV vaccine in girls has already had a profound impact on cervical cancer rates, universal HPV vaccination (for both boys and girls) is expected to also cause a shift in the relative rates of these other cancers, says Kelly.

“These are difficult cancers to treat, and they are also difficult cancers in terms of the impact they can have on daily activities,” Kelly says.

For someone with head and neck cancer, May remove their ability to speak and swallow “during penile cancerIt is certainly very devastating for the men who have been diagnosed.”

In order to highlight the impact of these cancers, and to raise awareness of universal HPV vaccination for boys and girls, the Kelly Group has launched a series of testimonials showing how clinicians may initially miss a diagnosis of HPV-related head and neck cancer.

For Rachel Parsons, 37, a mother of five, it took half a year to be diagnosed with oral cancer. She spent those six months commuting back and forth between her family doctor and her dentist with a painful, growing mouth ulcer.

She still considers herself lucky.

After the surgery that lasted over 9 hours, her cancer was removed. However, the following year saw her in and out of hospitals with surgical complications, which put a strain on her marriage to firefighter husband Tim.

“We drifted away to the stage of thinking: You know what, I don’t“I don’t want to be with you anymore,” Parsons says.

The couple didn’t begin to find a way to connect until after they spoke with the minister who married them, and a charity for the firefighters organized childcare so they could spend a few days away from their children.

“It kind of got us back together after we almost destroyed cancer,” Parsons says. “I know a lot of people where cancer literally ruined their relationship, so we were very lucky that we didn’t let cancer defeat us.”

She now campaigns tirelessly with the Oral Cancer Foundation to raise awareness of HPV and HPV-related oral cancer. “He. SheIt’s very important for people to be more aware of HPV and I’m very active in trying to get people to listen,” Parsons says.

Other testimonies come from Joseph Mompers, who was diagnosed with HPV-related penile cancer 3 years ago, at the age of 57.

The worst thing, he says, is telling his kids, realizing that “my grandson, who was 5 months old at the time, probably won’t have any memories of me.”

He says he went through a kind of heartbreak, and the illness and its treatment had medical, emotional, social, occupational, and sexual implications, especially after he underwent a penis excision.

“While sex should, ideally, be a combination of physicality and intimacy, there is a clear shift toward intimacy after this process…and both partners must learn from scratch how to handle the new situation,” he says.

Yet it is still positive.

“I would say to other patients, no matter how bad your prognosis is, you still have a chance,” he says. “A 5-year prognosis of 10% means 1 in 10 will still be alive after 5 years.”

“Only one, but it is one, so why is that possiblet be you? “

The third testimony is from Jill Bordyce, an American living in Paris and former reporter turned psychologist. She describes how 25 sessions of radiotherapy after being diagnosed with anal cancer in her 80s “really affected me”.

“It was really, really exhausting, and I ended up in the hospital for a week at the end of it,” she says.

Although her husband was very supportive, she found very little information available in France and so she turned to the Anal Cancer Foundation for support.

The foundation was launched by Tristan Almada along with his two sisters, Justin and Camille, after their mother Paulette was diagnosed with stage 4 anal cancer in March 2008 at just 51 years old.

“It had already spread to her lymph nodes,” Almada says. This means that the best treatment available at the time was a “vintage chemotherapy cocktail from the 1970s”.

Despite initially good results, her illness recurred, and within 6 months, she was “gone”.

The devastation caused by her loss soon gave way to “wrath and rage” as treatment options were severely limited, forcing the siblings to launch the foundation.

They learned shortly thereafter that there was an “easy way to prevent what happened to our family from ever happening to anyone in the world again,” which was through “universal HPV vaccination.”

This led them on a journey of understanding why “an organization like theirs needs to exist in the first place, because in theory, you have this bad thing, HPV, which causes cancer in men and women…but also thanks to human ingenuity, you have a vaccine” .

Thus, since 2010, the Foundation has focused on highlighting universal HPV vaccination, “and we have a very clear ambition, which is to rid the world of HPV and prevent all cancers caused by HPV.”

Universal vaccination: boys as well as girls

Universal vaccination means ensuring that boys are vaccinated as well as girls.

“There is no doubt that the effectiveness of HPV vaccination has been significantly improved” by vaccinating boys, says Leslie R. Boyd, MD, director of the division of gynecological oncology at NYU Langone Health.

“What happens without vaccination is that you have this group of vectors…and then to have the full protection of the population, vaccinating the boys is critical,” she says.

Boys are clearly not at risk of cervical cancer, but they do have a “high risk” of head and neck cancer from exposure to HPV, and so “definitely would benefit,” she says.

“Obviously from an epidemiological perspective, cervical cancer will significantly overtake head and neck cancer in terms of HPV cancer burden sometime in the next decade,” Boyd says.

She explains that this is because HPV vaccination is “more prevalent” among women, while head and neck cancer as a disease is “more prevalent among men.”

“So there’s a mismatch there, and there’s no routine head and neck cancer screening, so for both reasons, we can expect to see increases,” she says.

WebMD Health News


Daniel Kelly, RN, PhD, Co-Chair, European Cancer Organization HPV Action Network.

European Cancer Organization: “HPV Certifications.”

Tristan Almada.

Leslie R Boyd, MD, director of the division of gynecological oncology, Perlmutter Cancer Center, NYU Langone Health.

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