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Study: Anal, Throat Cancers On Rise Among Young Adults

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A radiologist stands next to an MRI machine. (credit:  FRANK PERRY/AFP/Getty Images)

A radiologist stands next to an MRI machine. (credit: FRANK PERRY/AFP/Getty Images)

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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS Atlanta) – According to a new study, anal and throat cancers have increased over the past 35 years in adults younger than 45.

“The increase in the incidence of oropharyngeal cancer among younger men and of anal cancer among younger women are disturbing, because there are no screening programs for early detection of these cancers,” Dr. Lorraine Shack, an assistant professor of oncology at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine, and co-author on the study, told HealthDay.

Canadian researchers analyzed data from the Alberta Cancer Registry in order to monitor trends in human papillomavirus (HPV) cancers that were diagnosed between 1975 and 2009.  They identified 8,120 cases.

Out of the cases the researchers identified, 56 percent were cervical cancers; while 18 percent were oropharyngeal cancers, which is in the back of the mouth or throat.

Although most HPV-related cancers occur in people between 55 and 74, researchers found that the greatest percentage increase was among men under 45.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that all boys and girls that are 11 or 12-years-old should get vaccinated for HPV.

The CDC says HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection.

“To have a large impact on the prevention of these HPV-associated cancers, vaccination programs should be considered for males as well as females, as has now been done in Alberta,” Dr. Harold Lau, a clinical associate professor of oncology at the University of Calgary, and co-author of the study, told HealthDay. “Both oropharyngeal and anal cancers are associated with substantial side effects when treated; therefore, education and prevention programs, including the HPV vaccination program, are urgently required.”

They also found that anal cancer among women has doubled, going from 0.7 to 1.5 for every 100,000 people.

The study was recently published in CMAJ Open.

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