By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Feb. 12, 2019 (HealthDay News) – The recent increase in the number of vocal cord cancers among young, non-smoking Americans can be explained by the spread of the human papillomavirus (HPV), researchers report.

"Over the last 150 years, vocal or glottal cord Cancer, was almost exclusively a disease associated with smoking and almost entirely seen in patients over the age of 40, "says Dr. Steven Zeitels, lead author of the study, who heads the Division of Laryngeal Surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

"Today, non-smokers are approaching 50% of patients with gland cancer, and it is common for them to be diagnosed before the age of 40," he said. said Zeitels in a press release from a hospital. "This epidemiological transformation of vocal cord cancer is a major public health problem."

In this study, researchers examined the records of 353 patients treated for vocal cord cancer in Massachusetts. Eye and Hear Infirmary and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) between July 1990 and June 2018.

None of the 112 patients treated between 1990 and mid-2004 were 30 years of age or younger, but 11 of the 241 patients treated between 2004 and 2018 were 30 years of age or younger, including three aged 10 to 19 years old. . Only three of these 11 patients were smokers. .

Analysis of tumor tissue samples revealed by 10 of 11 patients aged 30 years and under showed that all had strains at high risk of HPV infection, which also resulted in cervical cancer and other types of cancers.

Although the study did not prove that HPV was at the origin of these vocal cord cancers, this increase seems to resemble an earlier increase in the number of throat cancers, also related to infections with high-risk strains of HPV, the researchers said.

Zeitels and his colleagues first found an increase in the number of vocal cord cancers among non-smokers about 15 years ago, and initially attributed this increase to increased travel and leisure. exposure to infectious diseases. But then they decided to investigate the role that HPV infection might play in vocal cord cancer in younger non-smokers.

"Large-scale studies are now needed to determine the rate of increase of glottic cancer in non-smokers, the incidence of high-risk HPV in these cancers, as well as the evolution of the age and gender of the people affected, "said Zeitels.

The study was published Feb. 7 in a special supplement of the March issue of the Annals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology.

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SOURCE: Massachusetts General Hospital, press release, February 7, 2019

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