It has been known for years that Human papilloma virus can also cause cancer in men. But more recent research found that the virus is primarily responsible for some cancerous lesions in both sexes.
As early as 1842, the role that sexual contacts seemed to play in causing cervical cancer (CC) was described. But it was not until 1981 when scientific advances made it possible to identify the human papillomavirus (HPV) as the necessary cause for the development of CC.
This discovery marked a revolution in the prevention of this type of cancer. The possibility of developing vaccines against HPV and thus preventing its infection as a previous step to the development of cancer was opened.
In addition, the improvement of virus detection techniques was promoted to be used in early detection programs for CCU.
Human papilloma virus can also cause cancer in men
Advances in knowledge have led to the identification of HPV as the main cause of cancerous lesions in the genital area (anus, penis, vagina and vulva) in both men and women.
We now know that Human papilloma virus can also cause cancer in men on the oral cavity, tongue, pharynx, and larynx (head and neck cancers). These types of cancer are on the rise in high-income countries, especially in men.
In addition, HPV is the cause of genital warts in both sexes, which, despite being benign, are very annoying and frequent.
Therefore, we now know that any sexually active person can be infected with HPV regardless of their gender. Simply having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with an infected person.
Vaccines prevent the development of cancer
Thanks to scientific research, we have 3 extraordinarily effective and safe vaccines against different types of HPV. Since 2006, more than 300 million doses have been administered worldwide.
The active surveillance that has been carried out around their safety places them among the most and best studied vaccines.
The three currently authorized vaccines are indicated for both sexes from the age of nine with no upper age limit.
However, they have been shown to be most effective when administered before the start of sexual intercourse, that is, before exposure to the virus. This does not mean that vaccination is not recommended for people who have already started sexual relations.
Evolution of vaccination programs
In Spain, vaccination with two doses at 12 years of age is recommended, rescuing all girls up to 18 years of age who were not vaccinated at the time. Vaccination up to the age of 26 is also financed for people (regardless of gender) with HIV infection, men who have sex with men and people in prostitution.
More recently, vaccination at any age for women who have been treated for a precancerous lesion on the cervix has been included.