FRIDAY, March 11, 2022 (HealthDay News) — The incidence of human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated cancers is beginning to increase, with greater increases seen in the lowest-income counties and in counties with high smoking prevalence, according to research published in the April issue of JNCI Cancer Spectrum.

Yueh-Yun Lin, from the UTHealth School of Public Health in Houston, and colleagues used the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results 21 database to identify HPV-associated cancer during 2000 to 2018. Trends in incidence were estimated by county-level income and prevalence of smoking.

The researchers found that in the lowest-income counties, anal and vulvar cancer incidence among women and anal cancer incidence among men increased markedly, while in the highest-income counties, the increases were slower (e.g., for vulvar cancer, incidence increased 1.9 and 0.8 percent in the lowest- and highest-income counties, respectively). Cervical cancer incidence plateaued in the highest-income counties in recent years (0.0 percent per year) and increased 1.6 percent per year in the lowest-income counties. Marked increases in incidence were seen for counties with high smoking prevalence compared with their counterparts (e.g., anal cancer increased 4.4 versus 1.2 percent per year among men living in counties with the highest versus the lowest smoking prevalence).

“Declining cervical cancer incidence has started to reverse, and marked increases in anal, oropharyngeal, and vulvar cancer incidence occurred in the disadvantaged counties,” the authors write. “Targeted public health interventions are urgently needed to reduce growing disparities.”

One author disclosed ties to Merck.

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