HPV not just a threat to women: mouth and throat cancers rising sharply in men

Canadian Cancer Society urges Canadians to get their children vaccinated against cancer-causing virus

TORONTO, Oct. 19, 2016 /CNW/ - Cancers of the mouth and throat caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) are rising dramatically among Canadian men and are poised to surpass the rate of cervical cancer in females, according to a special report released today by the Canadian Cancer Society. The report, Canadian Cancer Statistics 2016, was produced in partnership with the Public Health Agency of Canada and Statistics Canada.  

In 2016, nearly 4,400 Canadians will be diagnosed with an HPV cancer and about 1,200 Canadians will die from an HPV cancer. The incidence of HPV mouth and throat cancers increased a dramatic 56% in males and 17% in females between 1992 and 2012. Mouth and throat cancers now represent about one-third of all HPV cancers in Canada.

The Society is urging Canadians to get the HPV vaccine – a safe and effective way to prevent the cancer-causing infection.

"This report shows us for the first time how many Canadians are being affected by HPV cancers," says Dr Robert Nuttall, Assistant Director, Health Policy, Canadian Cancer Society. "These cancers are largely preventable through vaccination. In the moment it takes to vaccinate your children, you are helping to protect them from cancer in the future."

The HPV vaccine is widely available through publicly funded school-based programs. It is offered to girls in all provinces and territories, but to boys in only 6 provinces (Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario, PEI and Quebec, but not in BC, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Saskatchewan, or the territories). The Society is calling on the remaining 4 provinces and 3 territories to expand their programs to all boys.

"The more boys and girls that get vaccinated, the more cases of cancer will be prevented. It's that simple," says Dr Nuttall.  

Today's report underscores how important it is to take preventive action to stop more cancers before they start. With the country facing a projected 40% increase in the number of cancer cases between 2015 and 2030, it's essential to reduce cancer risks across the board, from HPV to tobacco to obesity. It's estimated that almost half of all cancers can be prevented through healthy living and policies that protect the health of Canadians.

More about HPV

Most sexually active people will have an HPV infection at some point during their lifetime, making it the most common sexually transmitted disease in Canada and the world. Most people never even know they have it, as most infections clear within 2 years and cause no physical symptoms. However, some infections are serious and can lead to cancer. There are more than 100 different types of HPV, and around 25 types are known or suspected to cause cancer. HPV causes:

  • all cases of cervical cancers
  • 25%–35% of oropharyngeal and oral cavity (mouth and throat) cancers
  • 80%–90% of anal cancers
  • 40% of vaginal and vulvar cancers
  • 40%–50% of penile cancers

While it's been known for decades that HPV causes cervical cancer, many people don't realize that it causes these other types of cancer too, and that it affects males as well as females. This report shows that only 35% of HPV cancers in Canada are cervical. In fact as many Canadians get an HPV mouth and throat cancer as get cervical cancer. And 1 in 3 HPV cancers occur in males. Two types (HPV16 and HPV18) are responsible for the majority of HPV cancers. These infections can be almost entirely prevented through vaccination.

Quotes

"The word eradicate has never been used in the context of a cancer," says Dr Eduardo Franco, world-renowned HPV expert and chairman of the department of oncology at McGill University's Faculty of Medicine. "But perhaps future historians will write about cervical cancer as a disease that only previous generations of Canadians had. In order to reach this goal, it is imperative that Canadians embrace the new public health advances that are significantly improving cancer control and prevention."

"We now know that HPV is causing a significant burden of cancer in Canada," says Dr. Heather Bryant, Vice President, Cancer Control at the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer. "Vaccination is effective and we are already seeing benefits in Canada."

Patient story

Will Dove, 51, a web developer in Calgary, had just returned from vacation with his family in Mexico this spring when he began to experience pain and pressure in one ear. The initial diagnosis was an ear infection, but it turned out to be throat cancer caused by an HPV infection. The self-described "fitness nut" and body builder lost 30 pounds in just 5 weeks while undergoing treatment. "Imagine if we had a vaccine for cancer," says the father of 2 teens. "For HPV cancers, we do. If we vaccinate our kids, we can help make these cancers nothing more than a grim memory."

More about HPV vaccinations

Three HPV vaccines are available in Canada. They are all highly effective in protecting against the HPV types they target, which includes the common high-risk (cancer-causing) types 16 and 18. The vaccines are most effective when administered before the onset of sexual activity when the probability of prior infection is low, which is why publicly funded programs are for school-aged children. In addition, the immune system responds better when vaccination is given at a young age.

Extensive research shows that the vaccines are safe, well tolerated and do not increase the risk of serious adverse events. The most common side effects are soreness, swelling, itching and redness at the injection site and fainting.

While the vaccine is widely available to girls in Canada through school programs, not enough children are getting vaccinated. Coverage rates range from 43% to 91% across the country, and only 2 provinces have coverage rates over 80% (NL and PEI). The Society urges schools and health professionals to promote the vaccine as a safe and effective cancer prevention strategy, and urges parents to sign the vaccination permission forms that their children bring home from school. The Society is also calling on those provinces and territories that haven't already done so to expand free vaccination programs to boys. 5 yeas, he Canadian Cancer Society has

General highlights – Canadian Cancer Statistics 2016

  • Cancer continues to be the leading cause of death in Canada, causing 30% of all deaths.

  • An estimated 2 in 5 Canadians are expected to be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetimes. And an estimated 1 in 4 Canadians will die from cancer.

  • Over the past 30 years, the death rate for all cancers combined has been declining for males and females.

  • There were no significant increases in death rates during the past decade for most types of cancer in men and women, with the exception of uterine cancer in females and liver cancer in both sexes.

  • Today, over 60% of Canadians will survive at least 5 years after a cancer diagnosis (adjusted for other causes of death). However, this varies considerably by cancer type.

  • An estimated 202,400 new cases of cancer (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer) and 78,800 deaths from cancer are expected to occur in Canada in 2016.

  • Rates of the disease are relatively stable for new cases and declining for deaths. However, the number of new cancer cases and cancer deaths continues to rise as the Canadian population grows and ages.

  • Four types of cancer – lung, breast, colorectal and prostate – account for 50% of newly diagnosed cancers.

  • Lung, colorectal, breast and pancreatic cancer are the most common causes of cancer death, with lung cancer accounting for more than 25% of all cancer deaths.

All rates are age standardized to the 2011 Canadian population.

About Canadian Cancer Statistics
Canadian Cancer Statistics 2016 was prepared through a partnership of the Canadian Cancer Society, the Public Health Agency of Canada, Statistics Canada and provincial and territorial cancer registries. For more information about Canadian Cancer Statistics 2016, visit cancer.ca/statistics.

Backgrounder: HPV

Backgrounder: General cancer statistics 2016

More information about HPV and HPV vaccines.

About the Canadian Cancer Society
The Canadian Cancer Society is a national, community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is to eradicate cancer and enhance the quality of life of people living with cancer. Thanks to our donors and volunteers, the Society has the most impact, against the most cancers, in the most communities in Canada. For more information, visit cancer.ca or call our toll-free bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1-888-939-3333 (TTY 1-866-786-3934).

Media backgrounder #1: Canadian Cancer Statistics
Special topic: HPV-associated cancers (HPV cancers)

Canadian Cancer Statistics 2016 was released today by the Canadian Cancer Society, in collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Canada and Statistics Canada. The report includes a special topic chapter on HPV-associated cancers in Canada.

Overview

The report shows the incidence rate of HPV mouth and throat cancers increased 56% in males and 17% in females over 20 years (1992-2012). Canadian men are more than 4 times more likely to get an HPV mouth or throat cancer than women. This may be because men are more likely to acquire an oral HPV infection and take longer to clear these infections than women. If recent trends continue, it is likely that the rate of HPV mouth and throat cancers in men will surpass the rate of cervical cancer in women in the near future.

Almost 4,400 Canadians will be diagnosed with HPV cancers in 2016. It is estimated that about one-third of these are mouth and throat cancers. Another third are cervical cancers.

Highlights

HPV is associated with many types of cancer in both sexes

  • In 2012, 3,760 Canadians were diagnosed with an HPV cancer. This number is expected to grow to almost 4,400 in 2016. Almost 1,200 will die from an HPV cancer this year.

  • 35% of HPV cancers occurred in the cervix, while the remaining 65% of HPV cancers were in other areas.

  • The number of new HPV mouth and throat cancers cases was about the same as cervical cancer cases.

  • 1 in 3 HPV cancers was diagnosed in males

The HPV vaccine plays a vital role in cancer prevention, a core priority of the Canadian Cancer Society

  • 2 types of high-risk HPV (types 16 and 18) are responsible for 70% of cervical cancer cases, as well as a large proportion of cancers of HPV-associated cancers of the vagina, vulva, anus, penis and mouth and throat. HPV vaccines prevent these 2 high-risk HPV infections.

  • Although the vaccines aren't currently approved for the prevention of mouth and throat cancers, HPV16 is present in approximately 90% of HPV-associated mouth and throat cancers, and there is recent clinical trial evidence that HPV vaccination prevents the vast majority of these infections.

  • All 3 vaccines available in Canada are highly effective against the HPV types they target. They are most effective when administered before the onset of sexual activity when the probability of prior infection is low, which is why publicly funded programs are for young age groups.

  • Extensive research shows that the vaccines are safe and well tolerated. The most common side effects are soreness, swelling and redness at the injection site, as well as light-headedness, dizziness, nausea, headache, or fever.

  • Studies have shown that HPV vaccination programs have already led to reductions in pre-cancerous cervical lesions in Canadian women.

The Canadian Cancer Society urges HPV vaccination for both males and females to help protect them against cancer.

  • Girls and boys aged 9 and older can be vaccinated against HPV to reduce their risk of HPV-associated cancers.

  • We urge parents to have their daughters and sons vaccinated through free school-based vaccination programs, where available.

  • The Society is calling for HPV vaccination programs to be expanded to boys in those provinces and territories that do not yet have a school-based program for boys (BC, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and the 3 territories).

The Society will continue to play a key role in reducing the burden of HPV-associated cancers by:

  • Funding more excellent research across Canada to find more answers about HPV-associated cancers, especially mouth and throat cancers. Over the last 15 years, we've invested $4 million into world-class research on HPV cancers.

    • In the 1990s, Society-funded research Dr. Eduardo Franco (McGill University) played a key role in establishing the link between HPV and cancer.

  • Advocating on behalf of Canadians to call for HPV vaccination programs to be expanded to boys in those provinces that do not yet have a school-based program for boys.

  • Raising awareness of vaccination programs amongst parents and providing information for those who wish to have their children vaccinated.

  • Encouraging those who are not eligible to receive publicly funded HPV vaccination to speak with their healthcare provider about whether the HPV vaccine is right for them.

More about HPV

In 2012, 3,760 Canadians were diagnosed with an HPV-associated cancer, and this number is expected to rise to 4,375 in 2016. More than 40 types of HPV can infect the anogenital tract, including the skin of the penis, vulva and anus, and the lining of the vagina, cervix and rectum. These types can also infect the lining of the mouth and throat, notably the oropharynx (including the base of the tongue and tonsils).

In 2006, the first preventative HPV vaccine became available in Canada. Since then, there has been increased attention on HPV cancers and their prevention. However with the exception of cervical cancer, there was little data on HPV cancers in Canada. Measures of the population burden of HPV cancers are important for a number of reasons, including prevention planning and evaluation.

About Canadian Cancer Statistics

Canadian Cancer Statistics is an annual publication that provides estimates of the burden of cancer in Canada for the current year. This year marks the 30th edition of Canadian Cancer

Statistics. It was prepared through a partnership of the Canadian Cancer Society, the Public Health Agency of Canada, Statistics Canada and provincial and territorial cancer registries.

For more information about Canadian Cancer Statistics 2016, visit cancer.ca/statistics

About the Canadian Cancer Society

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website www.cancer.ca or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

Media backgrounder #2: Canadian Cancer Statistics 2016

Cancer in Canada: Fast facts

Canadian Cancer Statistics 2016 was released today by the Canadian Cancer Society in collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Canada and Statistics Canada.

Current estimates of new cases and deaths

In 2016:

  • An estimated 202,400 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in Canada (excluding non-melanoma skin cancers).
  • There will be an estimated 78,800 deaths from cancer.

Every hour of every day, an average of 23 people will be diagnosed with some type of cancer, and about 9 people will die from the disease.

  • Of the newly diagnosed cases, more than half (50%) will be prostate, breast, lung and colorectal cancers.

  • Canadians aged 50–79 will represent 70% of all new cancer cases and almost 62% of cancer deaths in 2016. The highest proportion of new cancer cases (56,400, or 28%) will occur in Canadians aged 60–69, while the highest proportion of deaths from cancer (26,900 deaths, or 34%) is expected in those aged 80 and older.

The number of new cancer cases and cancer deaths continues to rise steadily as the Canadian population grows and ages.

Prostate cancer

  • Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Canadian men (21% of all new cases of cancer in men).

  • In 2016, it is estimated that approximately 21,600 Canadian men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, and about 4,000 will die from the disease.

  • The incidence and death rates have both been declining. The death rate has been declining significantly by 3.1% per year between 2003 and 2012, which likely reflects improved treatments for this cancer.

Breast cancer

  • Breast cancer continues to be the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Canadian women (26% of all new cases of cancer in women).

  • In 2016, it is estimated that approximately 25,700 Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and about 4,900 will die from it.

  • The death rate has declined 44% since peaking in 1987. In recent years (2003-2012), the death rate has decreased an average of 2.6% per year. The declines are attributed to earlier diagnosis through screening mammography and the availability of improved treatment. The breast cancer death rate is currently the lowest it has been since 1950.

  • Between 1987 and 2012, it is estimated that over 32,000 breast cancer deaths were avoided due to improved treatments and greater uptake of mammography screening.

Lung cancer

  • Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women.

  • Lung cancer takes the lives of more Canadians than breast, prostate and colorectal cancers combined.

  • In 2016, it is estimated that approximately 28,400 Canadians will be diagnosed with lung cancer, and about 20,800 will die from it.

  • Tobacco use causes more than 85% of lung cancer cases. Other causes of lung cancer include radon and asbestos exposure, air pollution, certain lung diseases, a family history of lung cancer and exposure to certain occupational chemicals.

  • In women:

    • In 2016, it is estimated that approximately 14,000 Canadian women will be diagnosed with lung cancer, and about 9,800 will die from it.

    • The lung cancer incidence rate had been increasing since at least the 1960s but has recently leveled off (2006 to 2010).

    • Similarly, the death rate for women had been increasing but recently leveled off (2006 and 2012).

  • In men:

    • In 2016, it is estimated that approximately 14,400 Canadian men will be diagnosed with lung cancer, and about 10,900 will die from it.

    • The lung cancer incidence and death rates began to level off in the mid to late 1980s after several decades of increase, and have been declining ever since.

    • The incidence rates dropped by 1.7% per year between 2001 and 2010 and death rates by 2.3% per year between 2003 and 2012.

The difference between the male and female trends reflects the drop in smoking that began for men in the early 1960s and much later for women in the 1980s.

Between 1989 and 2012, it is estimated that more than 31,500 lung cancer deaths were avoided as a result of the decrease in death rate since 1988.

Colorectal cancer

  • In 2016, it is estimated that approximately 26,100 Canadians will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and about 9,300 will die from it.
    • About 14,500 men will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and about 5000 will die from it.
    • About 11,600 women will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and about 4300 will die from it.

  • Between 2001 and 2010, the incidence rate for men decreased by 0.7% per year, and the incidence rate for women decreased by 0.6% per year.

  • The death rates continued to decline for both men and women – by 2.3% per year in men between 2004 and 2012 and 2.0% per year in women between 2003 and 2012. This is likely the result of improvements in treatment, such as chemotherapy, and increasing availability and uptake of screening.

Canadian Cancer Statistics 2016 was prepared through a partnership of the Canadian Cancer Society, the Public Health Agency of Canada, Statistics Canada and provincial and territorial cancer registries.

All incidence and death rates are age-adjusted to the 2011 Canadian population. For more information about Canadian Cancer Statistics 2016, visit cancer.ca/statistics

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national, community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is to eradicate cancer and enhance the quality of life of people living with cancer. Thanks to our donors and volunteers, the Society has the most impact, against the most cancers, in the most communities in Canada. Building on our progress, we are working with Canadians to change cancer forever. For more information, visit cancer.ca or call our toll-free bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1-888-939-3333 (TTY 1-866-786-3934).

SOURCE Canadian Cancer Society (National Office)

For further information: Rosie Hales, Communications Specialist, Canadian Cancer Society, rosie.hales@cancer.ca, 416-934-5338

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