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Tobacco Use and HPV Exposure

The two most prevalent causes of head and neck cancers are tobacco use and human papillomavirus exposure. Maurie Markman, M.D., vice president for clinical research at M. D. Anderson, reviews a study reported in Clinical Cancer Research last month on what happens when a patient has HPV exposure and uses tobacco. The study looked at 124 patients with advanced oropharyngeal cancer, or cancer of the tonsils or the base of the tongue. Of the HPV-positive patients who had never used tobacco, 6% had a recurrence of their cancer. Meanwhile, 19% of former tobacco users and 35% of current tobacco users had a recurrence.
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