HPV vaccines such as Gardasil protect against cervical cancer as well as penile, throat, and mouth cancers. Their widespread use should significantly reduce the number of new cases. But it will take time to find out how much effect it had on the rates of the disease.
Since 2007, health authorities have recommended vaccinating young girls against human papillomavirus (HPV). later these recommendations were extended to boys. This vaccine is aimed at preventing cancers of the uterus, vagina, penis, and anus. Vaccination also reduces the risk of throat and mouth cancers, which are often associated with HPV. US researchers showed in the journal JAMA Oncology that it will be some time before the effect of vaccination on the number of these cancers becomes apparent.
In this study, researchers from the Bloomberg School of Medicine analyzed national databases on cases of oral cancer and HPV vaccination. This allowed them to predict the impact of HPV vaccination on the incidence of these cancers in different age groups. They estimate that the incidences of throat and oral cancers among people aged 36-45 years will almost halve between 2018 and 2045. However, it is expected that this rate will remain stable in the population as a whole until 2045, as these cancers are increasingly common in older people. “We estimate that between 2018 and 2045, the majority of oral and pharyngeal cancers will occur in people aged 55 and older who are not vaccinated,” said Yuehan Zhang, lead author of the study. In most cases, these cancers will occur at the end of life.
Vaccination is effective against this family of viruses, but it has one major drawback: it can prevent, but not cure. It does not work against existing HPV infections or HPV-transformed and tumor-forming cells. It is therefore particularly recommended for young people who have not yet been exposed to sexually transmitted HPV. For adults who are already sexually active and have a possible HPV infection, the vaccine is not 100% effective.
By 2020, almost a third of 16-year-old girls had received both doses of the vaccine. According to US researchers, these percentages could rise sharply in the coming years. They estimate that by 2045, 72% of the 36 to 45-year-old, 37% of 46-55 year old, and 9% of 56-69 year old will have been vaccinated. These high figures are expected to have an impact on cancer incidence. “Our projections show that around 100 cases of oral cavity cancer per year will be avoided by around 2033, but by 2045 this number will increase by a factor of around ten,” said the report. the researcher concluded.