Anal cancer, which killed Farrah Fawcett and also recently struck Desperate Housewives star Marcia Cross, can be prevented with a vaccine
| HPV vaccine has significantly cut rates of cancer-causing infections
By Jessica Hamzelou, 26 June 2019
New Scientist – The HPV vaccine appears to be working.
Countries with vaccination programs are lowering the rate of virus infection, precancerous lesions and genital warts in girls and women. Boys and men are benefiting too, even when they aren’t vaccinated.
That’s the conclusion of a review of 65 studies across 14 high-income countries, including 60 million people, over eight years. “Our results provide strong evidence that HPV vaccination works to prevent cervical cancer in real-world settings,” says Mélanie Drolet of Laval University in Canada, who led the work.
HPV vaccination programs are currently running in around 115 countries, says Marc Brisson, also at Laval University, who co-authored the study. It is too soon to measure how these programs might impact rates of cervical cancer, so the team looked at rates of HPV infection and the incidence of precancerous lesions and anal and genital warts, which can result from infection.
The team found that, between five and eight years into a vaccination program, the prevalence of two strains of HPV that the vaccine protects against dropped by 83 percent among teenage girls and 66 percent in women aged 20 to 24. The prevalence of the virus also dropped by 37 percent in women aged between 25 and 29, even though most were unvaccinated.
The incidence of anogenital warts also dropped – by 67 percent among girls aged 15 to 19, and 54 percent in women aged 20 to 24. Diagnoses of anogenital warts were reduced in unvaccinated boys and men too – by 48 percent in boys aged 15 to 19, and 32 percent in men aged 20 to 24. This suggests that vaccinating girls and young women can protect boys and men too, thanks to herd immunity, says Brisson … Read more.
Farrah Fawcett’s Cancer Could Be Prevented Today
U.S. News & World Report – Actress Farrah Fawcett lost her battle with anal cancer on June 25, 2009, at the age of 62. [News of Fawcett’s death was overshadowed by the death of Michael Jackson the same day.]
Anal cancer is one of those cancers no one likes to talk about because it’s, well, anal cancer.
But we really should discuss it as much as, say, cervical cancer.
Both are predominately caused by the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus.
What’s worrisome is that unlike cervical cancer, which has dropped dramatically since the advent of the Pap smear, anal cancer is on the rise.
Incidence rates over the past 30 years have jumped by 78 percent in women and 160 percent in men, probably because more people now have more sexual partners and more people have anal sex (both among heterosexuals and gay men), says Lisa Johnson, a cancer epidemiologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.
Having unprotected sex, either anal or vaginally, raises your risk of becoming infected with HPV. Smoking is also associated with a higher risk of anal cancer, according to information I gleaned from the National Cancer Institute website, possibly because it inhibits immune function.
While anal cancer is far less common than breast cancer–1 in 640 women will be diagnosed during their lifetime, compared with 1 in 8 with breast cancer–only about half of anal cancers are detected in their earliest stage, when they’re most treatable. Partly for this reason, only about 67 percent of people diagnosed with anal cancer survive five or more years.