Men are six times more likely to be infected with oral Human Papillomavirus than women, UF researchers found.
Ashish Deshmukh, an assistant professor in the UF Department of Health Services Research, Management and Policy, lead the study and said it’s currently unclear why men are more often impacted than women.
While 11.5 million men have been diagnosed with oral HPV in the U.S., only 3.2 million women have received the same diagnosis, Deshmukh said.
Of the men who have oral HPV, 1.7 million have HPV 16, which is the strain that most often leads to cancer, he said.
UF’s study showed that older men are more likely to develop the oral cancer among men who have oral HPV. Deshmukh said a reason for this may be that as someone gets older, their body cannot fight the infection, causing HPV to stay in their system and become a cancer.
Because HPV usually goes away naturally, Deshmukh said there are no screening guidelines in place for doctors to use.
Currently, there is no technology that can detect oral precancer from HPV, which leads to cancer, he said.
“The solution is the HPV vaccine,” Deshmukh said. “It is imperative to vaccinate boys and girls in their teen years.”