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HPV Linked to Increased Rate of Vocal Cord Cancer in Young People

February 13, 2019

Rates of vocal cord cancer, also known as glottis cancer, could be rising among teens and young adults, a trend that appears to be linked to human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, according to research published Feb. 7 in the Official Gazette. Annals of Otolaryngology.

Vocal cord cancer is classified as laryngeal cancer and is considered relatively rare, with about 12,000 new cases each year. Its symptoms include voice changes, loss of voice, coughing, or swelling in the neck or throat. It is often successfully treated, especially if caught at an early stage.

In generations past, vocal cord cancer was associated with smoking. But the new study and other research point to infection with HPV, a sexually transmitted disease, as an important cause. The disease may also go awry biologically, with younger patients with HPV getting sick faster than those whose cancer is linked to smoking, he says. Stephen Zeitels, MDa head and neck surgeon at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital.

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