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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Cancer research: Virus that causes cervical cancer also causes penile cancer

Not too many people have heard of penile cancer, that is, cancer that affects the penis; and it is rare, with only around 1% of total cancer cases in the United States and Europe being those of penile cancer. The cancer can cause mutilations, and affects a higher number (upto 10% of all cancer patients) in certain parts of Africa and Asia. Penile cancer starts at the tip (also called the glans) of the penis, and spreads from there. Some of the common symptons of penile cancer include:
* A wart-like growth or lesion
* An open sore that won't heal
* A reddish rash
* Persistent, smelly discharge under the foreskin
The good news is that research has establised that the virus that causes cervical cancer also causes at least half of penile cancer cases, and hence, the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, used against cervical cancer, can also be used against penile cancers (link to article):

Dr. Silvia de Sanjose and colleagues reviewed cases of penile cancer reported in clinical studies between 1986 and 2008 and found 46.9 percent of tumors were associated with HPV.
Nearly all of these were linked to HPV strains 16 and 18, the two types that most commonly cause cervical cancer and which are targeted by Gardasil and Cervarix, they wrote in the Journal of Clinical Pathology.
Merck reported results of a clinical trial last November showing that Gardasil was effective in preventing lesions caused by the virus in men.

Finding that an existing medicine can be used in the fight against cancer is always great news.

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