With head and neck cancers are on the rise, boys and girls should get vaccinated against the human papillomavirus, doctors said Friday, as it’s been linked to their spread. Despite an overall slight decline in head and neck cancers, a particular form called oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) has spiked, especially in the developed world, Reuters reports. This seems to be linked to the spread of HPV, a virus that two vaccines (Cervarix and Gardasil) can protect against. HPV also causes virtually all cases of cervica cancer in the developed world. While including boys in vaccination programs is rare, scientists led by Hisham Mehanna of the Institute of Head and Neck Studies at University Hospital Coventry said it may be time to think again. Patients with HPV-related head and neck cancers are typically younger and employed; because these tumours appear to be less deadly than those caused by factors like smoking and drinking, they may live longer with physical and psychological effects of treatment.
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