That sexual revolution…what a hoot:
Dr. Eric Genden, head and neck surgeon at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, has seen his practice change dramatically over the past decade. “My waiting room used to be filled with smokers and drinkers, blue-collar workers,” recalls Genden. “Now it’s filled with professionals who were never smokers or drinkers.” This “new set of patients” is presenting with head and neck cancer, particularly in the tonsils and at the base of the tongue, at a younger age than the hard-living seniors. Genden was puzzled by the change. What could have triggered malignancy in these folks, he wondered, when in the past some 95 per cent of the head and neck tumours he saw grew out of a life dedicated to tobacco and booze?
He now knows the culprit: the human papillomavirus, or HPV. “What we’re seeing is almost an epidemic,” he says, referring to a growing acceptance by the medical community over the last several years that at least one strain of HPV (HPV-16, which also causes cervical cancer) is leading to what’s known as oropharyngeal cancer. “These patients are younger, in their 40s or 50s, mostly male, and they never smoked or drank.”