HPV-related oral cancer cases up among younger men

HPV-related oral cancer cases up among younger men

August 8th, 2011 by The Knoxville News Sentinel in Local - Breaking News

Vials of Human Papillomavirus vaccine are displayed for a photograph at the Catoosa County Health Department. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the United States.

Photo by John Rawlston/Times Free Press.

For the whole first half of his 20-year practice, oral surgeon Dr. Eric Carlson saw one basic type of male mouth cancer patient.

In file cabinet in his home office, he has thousands of slides: men in their 50s and 60s who were heavy smokers, heavy drinkers, hard livers. Many were war veterans; most all had "exposed himself to the classic carcinogens," Carlson said.

Then, in 2000, a man in his 30s in reasonably good health otherwise, who didn't drink or smoke excessively, came into Carlson's office. He had tongue cancer.

"Never saw that," Carlson said. "Never heard of it."

But that was about to change. Over the next 10 years, more and more relatively healthy men in their 30s, 40s and even 20s became patients of Carlson's because they had oral cancer. In fact, oral cancer cases have tripled over the past 20 years.

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