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Mendelsohn, now 48, is the classic victim of head and neck cancer caused by HPV, the human papillomavirus.A new study out this week shows there’s a silent epidemic of HPV-related cancers among men.A team at the University of Florida, Baylor College of Medicine and elsewhere found that 11.5 percent of U. men were actively infected with oral HPV between 20, and 3 percent of women were.That adds up to 11 million men and 3 million women, the researchers report in the Annals of Internal Medicine.Erich Sturgis, professor of head and neck surgery at the MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas.Frighteningly, the cancers don’t cause any symptoms until they have spread.Between 20, close to 39,000 people were diagnosed with a cancer caused by HPV every year in the U.

But the study found smoking also increased the danger of a high-risk infection, and, perhaps surprising to some, that men and women alike who smoked marijuana were far more likely to develop a cancer-causing strain of HPV.“The predicted probability of high-risk oral HPV infection was greatest among black participants, those who smoked more than 20 cigarettes daily, current marijuana users, and those who reported 16 or more lifetime vaginal or oral sex partners,” the researchers wrote.

That leaves several generations of Americans vulnerable to these head and neck cancers with no way of knowing if one is silently growing.

Mendelsohn was one of them.“I had zero symptoms, except I found a bump on my neck,” Mendelsohn said.“And the ironic thing is that I literally shave probably every day and never saw or felt the bump before.”It was stage 4 oropharyngeal cancer.

A new form of Gardasil, approved earlier this year, adds five new high-risk HPV strains to its coverage, for even more cancer protection.

Both boys and girls are supposed to get two doses of the vaccine, starting at age 11 or 12.

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