70 Percent Of Cervical Cancers Are Caused By Hpv, Transmitted By Males. As Carriers, Should Boys Be Inoculated?

by Rachel on November 30, 2009

“Experts Debate Giving HPV Vaccine to Boys
FRIDAY, May 18 (HealthDay News)
“Amid the controversy around mandated vaccination of young girls against the human papillomavirus (HPV), some experts are beginning to wonder whether the shot should also be given to boys.
While males cannot get HPV-linked cervical cancer, they make up half of the equation when it comes to spreading the sexually transmitted virus. And a new study released last week shows that the virus is also a leading cause of throat cancer, which affects both sexes.
“This is a viral infectious process, and the majority of the time it is passed through heterosexual contact. And I think it’s important to consider boys as equal players in that process,” said Dr. Michael Bookman, director of medical gynecologic oncology at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia.
“Boys are not as prone to [HPV-linked] cancer as girls, but they are obviously involved in the transmission, and there is some risk of cancer in boys, as well,” he added.
No one is debating the effectiveness of the vaccine, called Gardasil. The shot is targeted against the four strains (out of 15) of HPV that are thought to trigger 70 percent of cervical cancers.
Since its approval for use in girls and women between the ages of 9 and 26 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last June, several states have moved to mandate Gardasil’s inclusion into routine school vaccination programs. That’s because vaccinating before the onset of sexual activity is most effective in preventing HPV infection.
Those efforts have met with strong opposition, however. Some conservative groups worry the vaccine will encourage sex among young people, while other critics view the mandates as an intrusion on parental rights. Most state measures do give parents the right to opt out of the program, however.
So far, those debates have centered on young girls. But, in more rare instances, boys and men can fall prey to HPV as well. Reporting last week in the New England Journal of Medicine, a team of researchers at Johns Hopkins University confirmed that infection with HPV via oral sex is by far the leading cause of throat cancer, which strikes 11,000 American men and women each year. HPV is also a major cause of anal cancer and genital warts, both of which affect either sex.
The threat of throat cancer is especially troubling, Bookman said, because doctors traditionally only look for these malignancies in long-time smokers and drinkers. “Head and neck exams are more associated with smoking and alcohol and less associated with HPV, although that’s changing,” he said.
And while girls and women typically see a gynecologist for their Pap smear to look for cervical cancer, “how many boys and men are going to go to a doctor and ask them to look at their throat? It’s just not that common,” Bookman said.
Debbie Saslow is director of breast and gynecological cancers at the American Cancer Society. She agreed that HPV also poses a threat to males, but she’s not yet convinced that Gardasil would help protect them.
“We have been considering vaccination for boys since day one, but the problem is that there is just no data yet — everything is holding until we get data that the vaccine actually works in boys,” she said.
Gardasil’s maker, Merck & Co., is largely responsible for pulling that data together. However, according to Bookman, “they took a more conservative stance when they approached the FDA for licensure, registration and vaccine recommendations — their safety data base was stronger for girls than boys.”
Saslow also is doubtful whether Gardasil — which costs $360 per three-shot regimen — would prove to be cost-effective if provided to boys as well, at least in terms of preventing the biggest threat, cervical cancer.
“It may be cost-effective to vaccinate boys if not that many girls get vaccinated,” she said. “But if most of the female population ends up getting vaccinated, then vaccinating boys won’t add very much.”
But what about the vaccine’s cost-effectiveness in preventing anal and throat cancers, plus genital warts, among boys? Saslow said that since Gardasil has not yet been proven to be effective in boys, or to be effective against cancers outside the cervix, those points remain up in the air. “We still have all these questions that we need to look at,” she said.
Another expert, Dr. Robert Frenck, a professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, was equally noncommittal. Frenck, who sits on the American Academy of Pediatrics’ committee on infectious diseases, said his group is “in the process of developing the recommendations for HPV vaccine use.” He said the AAP recommendations would focus only on the vaccine’s “currently [FDA] licensed usage,” which is exclusively for females.
Still, Bookman believes that, should Gardasil prove effective in boys, widening its use to both sexes “is the correct way to try and do things.”
“What about everything

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

misstina November 30, 2009 at 5:59 pm

If it proves to be effective in males then, absolutely, men should be vaccinated as well. As for now, there’s no evidence and doctors can’t give medications to people who belong to groups there’s no testing on.
This is a huge reason men need to get physicals and STD screenings, and always use condoms even if the girl is on the pill. She may not know if she has one of the malignant strains of HPV, but once you’ve been exposed to it you’re signing up every woman you love enough in the future to be intimate with for cervical cancer and possibly worse.

Evil Guy November 30, 2009 at 9:18 pm

I think it’s better if we just all go back to the old days where men and women waited for marriage before having sex (as if that ever happened), unfortunately that doesn’t really deal with the current issue at hand.

Mark December 1, 2009 at 12:21 am

It should be up to them. He does not really benefit from it much, and it might do some harm (see anti-vaccination movement). So boys should not be pressured to get them.

Ryde-On December 1, 2009 at 2:19 am

Seems to me that if women are the ones likely to contract a potentially fatal cancer they’d want to be immunized.

Rococo-M December 1, 2009 at 8:40 am

Well, it’s much easier for a girl to contract an STD than a male during heterosexual sex, and the more males a girl has had inside of her the more likely she is to contract HPV, correct?
That’s why I prefer virgins.
No one should force a girl to get a vaccine–you can only catch it though intimate contact, so it’s not like it’s an epidemic. I know a girl who got the shot at 13–who outside of trailer parks and third world countries is having sex that young?

Anonymous December 1, 2009 at 11:48 am


David Davidson December 1, 2009 at 4:46 pm

quit being a s.lut

Colonel Reb December 1, 2009 at 9:44 pm

Three points here:
1. We weren’t all sexually active at that age. This is basically assuming we were.
2. This hasn’t been tested on men at all. For all we know there are bad side effects on men we don’t know about.
3. “My body, my choice” will come back to bite you all on the @ss on this one.

lipgloss December 2, 2009 at 1:51 am

If it’s effective, I don’t see why not. I have to question the logic behind believing that Gardasil will make teens more sexually active than they already are. I can’t ever remember HPV being a primary concern in my high school when sex was talked about. If they’ll do it in the face of things like herpes and pregnancy, they’ll do it regardless of Gardasil. I don’t think Gardasil has been on the market long enough to assess whether or not it should be mandated at schools, but if everything pans out as expected, again I see no reason why not. It makes just as much sense to mandate an HPV vaccination as it does Hepatitis. As recent cases have established, parental rights don’t extend to things that can compromise the health of child.

H5 December 2, 2009 at 6:52 am

I think the male should consent to it, I don’t think it should be mandatory, but there should be the option. Though I don’t think any vaccinations should be mandatory really, but I think this one should be mentioned to males around adolescence and they can decide.
HPV can cause some problems in men too though not as bad nor as common. So if men want to avoid those and avoid being a carrier, I think they should have the choice of the vaccination.

Yourface December 2, 2009 at 8:26 am

Yes. Everybody should get every vaccine there is that can prevent these types of things. If it’s not stopped, it’s just going to spread and get worse and worse.

Anonymous December 2, 2009 at 8:31 am

People who question why girls as young as the age of nine need to get this shot should realize that it’s done that way as because girls who are younger are less likely to be sexually active. Telling them to wait until they are at around the upper age limit is unrealistic because most women by that age are already sexually active or have had sex.
I found the part about HPV being the leading cause of throat cancer to be especially disturbing. Many people have this kind of sex as a way to prevent pregnancy or they wrongly believe it will protect them against a sexually transmitted disease. It doesn’t.

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