'Ask the Experts: HPV and Links to Cancer': What you need to know

February 10, 2014 | by Valerie Zapanta

What is HPV? How is it linked to cancer? How can I prevent it? Those are some of the questions many women have about human papillomavirus, or HPV. City of Hope physicians will provide the answers at our Feb. 20 "Ask the Experts" presentation.

Mark Wakabayahsi of City of Hope Mark Wakabayashi, chief of gynecologic oncology at City of Hope, will discuss the HPV vaccine and links to cervical cancer.

The session, titled “HPV and Links to Cancer,” will feature three City of Hope experts. 

Mark Wakabayashi, M.D., M.P.H., associate clinical professor and chief of gynecologic oncology, will focus on the virus' connection to cervical cancer and on the HPV vaccine, which can help prevent the disease.

Ellie Maghami, M.D., associate clinical professor and chief of head and neck surgery, will discuss oropharyngeal cancer (throat cancer), the changing patient profile of the disease and HPV awareness.

And Lily Lai, M.D., associate clinical professor, will talk about HPV and its connection to anal cancer. 

Here, our experts offer a preview of the session.


Ellie Maghami Ellie Maghami, M.D., will discuss oropharyngeal cancer (throat cancer), the changing patient profile, and HPV awareness.

Wakabayashi: Some of the common misconceptions I hear include that HPV will definitely lead to cancer. Although HPV increases one's risk for dysplasia and cancer, most infected women will not have any clinical manifestations. Also, some people who the HPV vaccine is dangerous, but it is very safe and is only a protein coat. Therefore, no genetic material is present.

Maghami: HPV-mediated oropharyngeal cancer is increasing in incidence in the United States. Seventy percent of oropharyngeal cancers are HPV-mediated. HPV oropharyngeal cancer affects younger patients, frequently men in their 40s and 50s. This is a lifestyle disease and linked to liberal sexual practices. HPV oral infection is common. The majority of people are asymptomatic and able to overcome the infection. However, it is unknown why some people are susceptible to lingering infections and progression to cancer. The majority of patients have excellent potential for cure. HPV-mediated oropharyngeal cancer is not contagious.

Lily Lai Lily Lai, M.D., will discuss anal cancer and its connection to HPV.

Lai: Anal cancer is not a common cancer, but nearly all of it is associated with HPV infection. There is no best way to screen for anal cancer, although treatment for early anal cancer is curative. We need to do a better job of identifying patients at risk for HPV infections and then screen them for anal cancer.

*  To learn more about HPV, please reserve your seat by signing up for the Feb. 20 Ask the Experts program on “HPV and Links to Cancer" to be held on our Duarte campus from 6 to 7:30 p.m. You can also watch the Feb. 20 HPV program live on our YouTube channel.

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