HPV cancers on rise in United States: govt

Vaccinations against HPV have been on the rise in recent years (AFP Photo/JOE RAEDLE)

Washington (AFP) - The number of cancers associated with the human papillomavirus (HPV) is on the rise in the United States, reaching nearly 39,000 each year, a government report said Thursday.

The case estimate by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spanned 2008 to 2012, and was higher than the just over 33,000 seen yearly from 2004 to 2008.

HPV cancers are commonly found in the genital areas of men and women, as well as the cervix, head, neck, and throat.

The cancers described in the report included nearly 11,700 cases of cervical cancer in women, and more than 12,600 cases of oral cancer among men.

Vaccines exist to prevent HPV, which is a common sexually transmitted infection, and are available to both boys and girls from age 11.

However, many teens do not get the vaccine, which is typically delivered in three doses.

Among adolescent girls aged 13-17 in 2014, just 60 percent received one dose and 40 percent received all three, said the CDC report.

Among boys, the vaccine rate was even lower, with 42 percent receiving one dose and 22 percent receiving all three.

"CDC scientists stress that 28,500 cases of HPV-caused cancer could be prevented by HPV vaccine," the federal agency said.

"Cervical cancer screening can find pre-cancers before they develop into cancer."

Electra Paskett, co-director of the Cancer Control Research Program at The Ohio State University, described the current vaccination rates in the United States as "extremely sad."

"In order to increase HPV vaccination rates, we must change the perception of the HPV vaccine from something that prevents a sexually transmitted disease to a vaccine that prevents cancer," said Paskett.

"This is better than a cancer cure -- it's cancer prevention."