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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Iowa: Annual Cancer Report Highlights HPV-related Cancers

While 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 cancers.

“Cervical cancer has been decreasing ever since the Pap test was introduced in 1940,” says Dr. Mary Charlton, assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Iowa 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 Dr. Charlton, this upward trend is even more substantial in rural areas, particularly the trend in oropharyngeal cancer.

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.

Dr. 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.