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The virus now responsible for 1 cancer in 20

HPV is not a women's health issue, it is responsible for 5% of all cancers.

That was the message to law-makers when the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Men's Health joined forces with the group on sexual health this month to hear from experts on the links between Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and a range of cancers in men and to consider the case for vaccinating boys.

Professor Magaret Stanley told members and guests that while the link between the HPV and cervical cancer had been discovered in 1983 it is not now a female issue: five per cent of all cancers worldwide are linked to HPV.

She added that the vaccination programme in girls is probably the best in the world. So there is a model that can be built upon. Studies from around the world highlight the need to vaccinate boys too. For example, HPV-linked tonsillar cancer in Sweden has seen a big increase, nearly doubling since 1960. Anal cancer in Scottish men has doubled since the 1970s. In the USA cases of HPV positive cancer have doubled since 1984.

Peter Greenhouse is a Consultant at the Bristol Sexual Health Centre. He stressed that despite successes vaccinating girls, Australia has still decided to vaccinate boys in order to protect:
• unvaccinated women
• men who have sex with men
• men when abroad.

In the UK, he added, the area with the best rates of vaccinating girls reaches 97%, but the worst only 56%. He said that the lowest rates are in the most deprived areas. He argued that there are clear parallels with rubella which wasn't tackled until boys were vaccinated too.

Professor Stanley concluded that we would prevent other cancers, such as prostate cancer, if we could - we can tackle HPV related cancers so we should take action.

Page created on October 24th, 2012

Page updated on November 29th, 2012