Could the HPV Vaccine Prevent Head and Neck Cancers?
The HPV vaccine* is generally associated with cervical cancer as preventing this common condition is the main purpose of the vaccination. However, the same virus that can cause cells in the cervix to change can also affect other parts of the body. For example, it can be associated with certain types of head and neck cancer that are treated at the Harley Street ENT clinic, such as throat cancer.
HPV and Cancer
The HPV vaccine protects against certain strains of the Human Papilloma Virus. The virus is very common and is spread through sexual contact. You won’t usually know if you have been infected with the virus as it won’t make you feel ill, however it can sometimes lead to changes in your own cells. If the abnormal cells go on to develop into cancer then this can be very serious. Infection with HPV is believed to be responsible for some cases of cervical, penis, and anal cancer as well as some throat and mouth cancers. Although HPV isn’t the only possible cause of these conditions, it is certainly a factor in some of the cases of head and neck cancer treated at the Harley Street ENT clinic.
Girls in the UK have been protected against some types of HPV since 2008 as the most common form of cancer associated with the virus is cervical cancer. However, boys are not routinely offered the vaccine and older people will have missed out on it too. It is therefore important to be aware of the signs of head and neck cancer and to seek help from the Harley Street ENT clinic if you think you might be affected. You might also want to consider arranging a private HPV vaccination for your sons as it can protect against throat cancer and other conditions linked to HPV. It isn’t usually worthwhile for older people to get vaccinated as most sexually active people will already have been exposed to HPV.
*Note Harley Street ENT does not offer the HPV vaccination.