2019 Cancer in Iowa report highlights HPV-related cancers

Published on March 5, 2019

cancer in iowa 2019 cover illustrationWhile the overall number of new cases for most types of cancer in Iowa remains mostly unchanged, the number of cancers related to the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is on the rise. According to the 2019 Cancer in Iowa report issued March 5 by the State Health Registry of Iowa, women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with HPV cancers. However, the incidence of HPV cancers among men is increasing, largely driven by increases in HPV-positive oropharyngeal (middle throat) cancers.

“Cervical cancer has been decreasing ever since the Pap test was introduced in 1940,” says Mary Charlton, PhD, assistant professor of epidemiology at the UI College of Public Health. “Unfortunately, there is nothing like the Pap test for the other HPV-related cancers, and they are dramatically increasing among both males and females.” According to Charlton, this upward trend is even more substantial in rural areas, particularly the trend in oropharyngeal cancer.

Human Papillomavirus is a group of viruses that includes more than 150 different high- and low-risk types. High-risk HPV types can cause cancer in addition to inflammatory lesions. According to the report, most sexually active men and women will be infected with HPV at some point in their lives and most will never know they have been infected. An effective vaccine to prevent HPV was introduced in 2006 and could prevent 90 percent of HPV-related cancers every year.

The 2019 Cancer in Iowa report estimates 6,400 Iowans will die from cancer in 2019. Lung cancer will continue to be the most common cause of cancer death for both males and females and will be responsible for about 1,630 – or approximately one out of every four – cancer deaths in Iowa.

The annual report also projects an estimated 18,100 new cancers will be diagnosed among Iowa residents this year. Breast cancer will remain the most common type of cancer diagnosed among females, while prostate cancer remains the most common type among males.

Charlton says the number of new cancers and cancer deaths per year remains fairly flat overall. “While it is encouraging that the numbers aren’t increasing dramatically, it’s also somewhat frustrating since two of the top cancers, lung and colorectal cancers, are largely preventable,” she says.

Read the full press release

View the 2019 Cancer in Iowa report (PDF)

Listen to the IPR River to River broadcast with Mary Charlton, Nathan Boonstra, Heather Meador, and George Weiner discussing the report.

Additional Media Coverage

Report finds preventable cancer cases continue to increase (Radio Iowa)

Human Papillomavirus-related cancers are on the rise (Press-Citizen)

Iowa reports dismal HPV-vaccination rates as related cancer incidents rise (The Gazette, The Courier, Globe Gazette)

HPV vaccination rate in Iowa below 50 percent (KCRG)

Cases of HPV-related cancers to increase in 2019, report says (Daily Iowan)