Vaccination against the humanpapilloma virus (HPV) may be a cost-effective strategy for preventing oropharyngeal cancer in 12-year-old boys. Oropharyngeal cancer starts at the back of the throat and mouth and involves the tonsils and base of the tongue.
The study provides important information about HPV vaccination which has proven effective against HPV-related disease in both sexes but remains controversial, especially in males.
Many western countries have established female HPV vaccination programs for preventing cervical cancer. Little is known about the cost-effectiveness of male-HPV vaccination.
"We believe this study is important because HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer has increased significantly in incidence, especially in developed countries," said Donna Graham from the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network in Toronto.
For the study, the team compared the potential costs and effectiveness of vaccinating adolescent boys in Canada against HPV for preventing HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer.
When the investigators applied a statistical model to a population of 192,940 Canadian boys who were 12 years old in 2012, they found that HPV vaccination could save from $8 million to $28 million Canadian dollars over the boys' lifetimes.
Factors that could impact the cost savings of HPV vaccination in boys include, among others, vaccine cost, vaccine effectiveness, costs of cancer treatment, and survival of patients with HPV-related oropharyngeal cancers.
"We hope that results from this study would raise awareness and lead to further assessment of this important public health issue," the authors concluded.
The study was published online in the journal CANCER