Waushara County Health News

HPV….not just for girls

HPV (Human papil-lomavirus)…we have been hearing for some time now that girls should get vaccinated against HPV. It is a virus that is responsible for the majority of cervical cancer cases in women, but many parents may not be aware that their sons should also be getting this very important immunization.  

Why boys?  HPV is responsible for several common cancers in men including oral, head and neck cancers. That includes cancers of the larynx (voice box), throat, lips, nose, saliva glands and oropharyngeal (back of the throat, tonsils and base of the tongue). 

Unlike screenings used to detect cervical cancer in women there are no effective screening for head and neck cancers. Often times they are discovered after vague symptoms appear such as sore throat, difficulty swallowing, swelling or lump in neck or mouth or pain when chewing…to name a few.

HPV is a very common virus in the US (United States). According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are approximately 6.2 million new infections each year in the United States alone. 

Most cases will resolve themselves within 2 years causing no health problems. In those cases, the person may never know they were infected which is why this virus can be spread from person to person so easily. For those people who do not clear the virus, it will remain inactive in the body for many years, usually decades and that is when it can cause many of the above-named cancers.  

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