HPV vaccination for young boys could prevent oral cancer

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COLUMBIA - Young boys that receive the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination have a lower risk of throat, head and neck cancer, according to new research. 

Typically the vaccination is recommended for young girls because the disease, which is sexually transmitted, can cause different types of cancers, specifically cervical cancer.

"In the past, its really been pushed for women much more stronger than men because cervical cancers are more common than the cancers that men get from HPV," said CoMO Cubs pediatrician John Wilson.

For men, according to the study, about 70 percent of all head and neck cancers are caused by HPV, likely spread by oral sex. 

"It's a very common virus. About 80 percent of us come in contact with it and carry it around at some point in our lives," Wilson said. 

He said that, within the past year, his practice has given the vaccine to 100 patients. The vaccination requires three different shots within a year's time span, which adds up to about 300 total vaccinations in the past year. 

Women get cancer from HPV about twice as often than men.

"Every year, there's about 18 to 20,000 cases of cervical cancer a year, and in men the cancer that the HPV causes is about 10,000. So about half that," said Wilson.

He said the typical age to start offering the vaccination is around 11 and 12 years old, before young boys and girls begin to be sexually active.