HPV-Oral Cancer Link Spotlights Health Disparities Among Men

An emerging new type of oral cancer in men has increased over the last 15 years.1 The culprit is human papillomavirus (HPV), and key social factors are contributing to its growth. April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and with the ongoing rise in cases of throat cancer linked to HPV,2 many medical and dental professionals are encouraging the public to take measures in an effort to help prevent this form of cancer.

The prevalence of oral HPV in men in the U.S is estimated to be more than 11 million—much higher than previously believed.3 “While women often clear HPV and can get regular pap smears to diagnose their HPV, there is no screening test for men,” said Nathan Fletcher, DDS, a dental director at AmeriHealth Caritas who closely studies oral diseases relative to people of color. “That is one reason the death rate associated with oral and oropharyngeal cancers for men remains high – these cancers often are discovered too late.” In the case of HPV-related throat cancer – which actually surpasses the annual incidence rate for cervical cancer — men outpace women by 4-1.4

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