Report to the nation on cancer shows mortality drops, HPV-related cancers on the rise

Today, the Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer was released, again showing cancer deaths continue to decrease overall. That's the good news.The not-so-good news is some hard-to-treat cancers aren't. Melanoma (men only), liver, pancreatic and uterine cancers have increased in the past decade. The number of oral cancers associated with human papillomavirus (HPV) is also rising. HPV is most notably known to cause cervical cancer, but lately it has been the cause of the high rate of oral cancers, specifically oropharyngeal cancers. ["Facing the Facts: HPV-Associated Head and Neck Cancers Get a Second Look" June 14, 2012]In 2011, an analysis from the National Cancer Institute predicted HPV-related oral cancers could significantly increase over the next decade, overtaking HPV-related cervical cancer. ["Men May Be at Greater Risk Than Women for Developing HPV-Related Cancers" June 8, 2011].The Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer is co-authored by researchers from the American Cancer Society, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Cancer Institute and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries. The full report will be available online and published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.The report also features a special section on HPV, including HPV-associated cancers vaccination factoids. The NCI reports:...in 2010, fewer than half (48.7 percent) of girls ages 13 through 17 had received at least one dose of the HPV vaccine, and only 32 percent had received all three recommended doses. Vaccination series completion rates were generally lower among certain sub-populations, including girls living in the South, those living below the poverty level, and among Hispanics. The national three-dose coverage estimate among girls ages 13 through 17 in 2010 falls well short of the U.S. Government's Healthy People 2020 target of 80 percent for three-dose coverage among girls ages 13 through 15...The HPV vaccine is also approved for young boys. The CDC predicts that about 7,000 HPV-associated cancers in the U.S. may be prevented by vaccine each year in men, including oropharyngeal cancers.Cancer prevention methods that appear so easy on paper (reduce tobacco, decrease obesity, vaccinate against cancer-associated viruses), unfortunately doesn't play out as quickly in real life. Here's hoping that we figure it out pretty soon.