Tuesday, June 4, 2013

As ASCO wraps up, docs are talking about cancer research while patients are talking about HPV and throat cancer

ASCO is the American Society of Clinical Oncology. It's the biggest professional cancer conference that draws a huge international crowd in Chicago every year. The city of Chicago sees a huge surge of tourism activity around this conference every summer.

In somewhat unrelated news, CBS published a story about Michael Douglas, his throat cancer, and HPV - the virus that causes cervical cancer, penile cancer, vulvar cancer, anal cancer, and oral cancers. In his case, his cancer risk was especially high because of his history of alcohol and tobacco use combined with HPV infection.

So, while doctors are buzzing about the latest developments in cancer research, the public is researching HPV and oral and throat cancers. I suspect that we'll see a rise in doctor's visits related to oral cancer concerns. Dentists are also involved in screening for oral cancers.

HPV is a preventable sexually transmitted illness. There are vaccines that prevent HPV infection and these can be given to girls and boys (one is approved for boys). In the USA, there are 2 HPV vaccines: Cervarix (made by GlaxoSmithKline) and Gardasil (made by Merck). Take a look at the CDC fact sheet about HPV vaccines.

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