Vaccination that guards against sexually transmitted infections can also protect people from throat cancer, researchers have found.
According to the findings of a new study, one third of people diagnosed with throat cancerhuman papillomavirus, or HPV, a sexually transmitted disease stand a significantly reduced chance of developing throat cancer, researchers say.
“We found the women who had the HPV vaccine had much less infection than the women who hadn’t,” study’s lead researcher Dr. Rolando Herrero, at the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France said.
“In fact, there was a 90 percent reduction in the prevalence of HPV infection in the women who received the vaccine compared to the women who had not,” he said.
As HPV infection is strongly linked to throat cancer, “we think that it is possible that the prevention of the infection will also lead to the prevention of these cancers,” Herrero noted.
For the purpose of the study, researchers at the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France recruited more than 7,400 women aged 18 to 25.
The women were either vaccinated with the HPV shot or received one that protected against hepatitis A.
The participants were followed for 4 years.
HPV vaccine was found to be 93 percent effective in preventing odds of throat cancer, researchers found.
At the end of four years, only one woman in the HPV group was diagnosed with throat cancer as compared to 15 cases in the hepatitis A vaccine group.
“The study is really preliminary information,” said Dr. Elizabeth Poynor, a gynecologic oncologist and pelvic surgeon at Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York City. “It will provide a basis to begin to study how the vaccine will help to protect against throat cancer,” she noted.
“It’s going to take a while to study those who have been vaccinated to determine that they are protected against throat cancer. This is just the beginning,” she said.
With oral cancers being much more prevalent among males than females, “it also really highlights that we need to vaccinate young boys,” Poynor added.
The findings of the study are reported in July issue of the online journal PLoS One.