Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Frightening Realities : Solutions

"[They -- males -- are] poised to surpass the rate of cervical cancer in females."
Canadian Cancer Society report

"These cancers [HPV-related] are largely preventable through a vaccination."
"In the moment it takes to vaccinate  your children, you are helping to protect them from cancer in the future."
Dr. Robert Nuttall, assistant director, health policy, Canadian Cancer Society

"We are already seeing benefits from the vaccine [in reduced numbers of pre-cancerous cervical lesions diagnosed cross-country]."
"Never before have we had Canadian statistics on the burden of these cancers in Canada. That is really important."
Leah Smith, epidemiologist, Canadian Cancer Society
CTV News: Rapid rise in HPV cancers

In 2006, the first preventive vaccine to protect against HPV became available and was initially offered to girls through publicly-funded school vaccination programs. All provinces and territories in the country now offer the vaccine to girls. Only six of the total also offer the vaccine to boys, including in Ontario. The Cancer Society is concerned that HPV cancers be recognized as an equal opportunity threat, not only to women, but to men as well.

It takes an estimated twenty years for an HPV infection to transform into cancer, according to the Cancer Society. Because of that long time gap the impact of the first of the HPV vaccine programs for middle school children  has not yet manifested for complete validation. In the meanwhile, many parents of schoolchildren were not convinced that the vaccine against HPV would benefit their children and they refused to give permission for their children to be vaccinated through the universal school program.

Yet cancers whose cause is the human papilomavirus are on a rising trajectory in Canada, threatening both sexes. The Cancer Society's newly released report examines cancers in direct relation to HPV, as the most common sexually transmitted disease, finding that mouth and throat cancers resulting from the virus leaped by 56 percent in Canadian men between 1992 and 2012, and during the same period by 17 percent in women.

Mouth, throat cancers and HPV
Mouth and throat cancers caused by the human papilloma virus have been rising steadily over the past two decades, with a 'dramatic' increase among Canadian men, according to a new report from the Canadian Cancer Society.

The Cancer Society estimates that close to 4,400 people will be diagnosed with some form of cancer this year, caused by HPV, and that an estimated 1,200 of those cancer patients will die. Canada expects to see 78,800 cancer deaths in 2015, with deaths from HPV cancers though lower than deaths from other forms of cancer -- lung cancer being the biggest killer -- but unlike other types of cancer the vast bulk of HPV-related cancers are vaccine-preventable.

Despite that reality and the assurances given to parents by experts in the field, coverage rates remain low in some areas of the country. Rates remain below the Ontario average, according to Ottawa Public Health, in the nation's capital, for example. About 65 percent of girls received the vaccine during the 2015-16 school year. This year, for the first time, boys are also scheduled to receive the vaccine in Ontario through a similar program.

Rates for HPV vaccination are over 80 percent in the provinces of Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador, while Ontario is close to 80 percent, but Manitoba stands at only a 46 percent takeup. "I think once people understood this is about cancer protection -- that you could actually prevent cancer -- the discourse changed", observed Joanne DeNardo, senior manager of public issues with the Cancer Society, referring to early pushback when some parents felt vaccination would lead to an attitude of early sexual activity promotion in children.
(Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Over one hundred types of HPV viruses exist, one quarter of which are known or suspected to be cancer-causing. At some point in their lives most sexually active people will have contracted an HPV infection, never realizing that they have, with infections clearing up within two years, no physical symptoms being present. Yet HPV is responsible for all cases of cervical cancer, accounting for 35 percent of HPV-related cancers in Canada.

Oropharyngeal and oral cavity cancers are caused by HPV (25 to 35 percent respectively) while anal (80 to 90 percent), vaginal and vulvar cancers (40 percent related to HPV) and penile cancers (40 to 50 percent related to HPV) have obvious direct links. Research has not yet indicated why it is that HPV-related mouth and throat cancers have increased so rapidly recently, but it is a trend that is seen equally in other areas of the world. Eighty percent of HPV mouth and throat cancers occur in men, with over a third of all HPV-related cancers striking men.
The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is a strong weapon in cancer prevention as it protects both females and males against HPV infections that can lead to almost all cases of cervical cancer, as well as a number of other cancers such as anal, penile, vaginal and vulvar, oral cavity and oropharyngeal. Current evidence tells us that the HPV vaccines are safe and most of the side effects that occur are not serious. The safety is being followed in Canada and other countries on an ongoing basis.Canadian Cancer Society logo

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