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Doctors encouraging parents to vaccinate kids as young as 11 against cancer-causing STD

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Doctors are encouraging parents to have their children vaccinated to prevent a sexually-transmitted disease, that can eventually cause cancer.

It's a cancer that's been showing up more and more, especially in men.

Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center's Dr. David Goldenberg says many of us could have had exposure to the Human papillomavirus, or HPV, and not have known it. He says it's the most common sexually transmitted disease. For most people it will just go away, but in certain cases it can develop, years later, into cancer.

“These cancers can be deadly.”

HPV can cause cancer in the tonsils and base of the tongue. Dr. Goldenberg says he sees about 3 to 4 such cases of cancer each week, primarily in men.

“This is a new phenomenon and I would say at least in our practice in Central Pa it is reaching epidemic proportions,” Dr. Goldenberg said.

But he says HPV induced oral pharyngeal cancers are very treatable, whether it be through surgery or radiation. In fact, he says the prognosis for such cancer is better than it is for smoking induced head and neck cancers. There are vaccines to help prevent the disease, but the CDC recommends them for 11 and 12-year-olds.

“These vaccines are only useful if the person is sexually naïve and has not been exposed to the virus.”

In other words, as you've had a chance to gain experience the virus probably has gone through your system. It may have laid dormant for years or even decades as Dr. Goldenberg says.

The symptoms are a persistent sore throat or a large painless mass in your neck that grows very quickly.

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