Preventing HPV Related Head & Neck Cancers

Steve Adubato goes One-on-One with Tom Thomas, MD, MPH, Medical Director, Head & Neck Reconstructive & Transoral Robotic Surgery, Morristown Medical Center, to talk about the impact of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) related head and neck cancers on men and women across the nation and how we can prevent it for future generations.

9/23/19 #2243






"Welcome to One on One. I'm Steve Adubato. We're coming to you from the Agnes Varis NJTV Studio. We're pleased to welcome Doctor Tom Thomas, director, Head and Neck Reconstructive Surgery and Transoral Robotic Surgery at Atlantic Health. Good to see you. Good to be here Steve. You and I were just talking before we got on the air, and I want to jump into that topic. HPV. HPV virus. What are we talking about? And why is it a critical issue? So HPV is a sexually transmitted disease. It's over... 200 varieties of them. There is... two to three of them are extremely important. This leads... as a head and neck surgeon, they cause 90 percent or more of the throat cancers that we are diagnosing nowadays. So my partner Erik Cohen, and my team at Morristown Medical Center, Doctor James Wong of Radiation Oncology, and Missak Haigentz of Medical Oncology, and other professionals, work together as a team, in a multidisciplinary way, to treat this epidemic of HPV-related throat cancer that we are seeing. You're calling it an epidemic? It is. Why? Because in the last 10 years, it went from 17 percent of the cancers of the throat to over 80 percent, and it is seen, especially in the developed world, especially in the UK, Eastern Europe, and Australia. And it is slowly spreading to the other parts of the world. A national-international crisis? Absolutely it is. Can HPV...? Can the virus be treated? So we have three different vaccinations that have been available since 2006. And we have seen efficacy of eradicating the infection over this time. And the indication has expanded now to boys and girls, and to even older adults. Okay. I'm curious about this. We've been having conversations with several medical professionals about vaccines. Now young people 11 and 12 should be getting what? So we should be giving them the HPV vaccination, that is... before they become sexually active, so it has the capacity to protect them from developing it, or decreasing the infection of it. That's the reason for… What is...? the... Sorry for interrupting, Doctor Thomas. Yeah. What do you say to those who say, "You know, you shouldn't be talking to 11-12 year olds about this, because it involves sexually transmitted disease, and we don't want to be talking about that to them, because we may be encouraging them to engage in behavior that they otherwise wouldn't." You say? I have four kids. I have three boys and a girl. And the oldest one is 13. I already vaccinated my oldest child. The second one is a girl. You know. She will get it. Every one of my kids will get vaccines, because..."