Cancer in Iowa

Cancer in Iowa

Main Page Content

State Health Registry issues Cancer in Iowa 2014 report, highlights HPV-related cancer treatment and detection
Cancer in Iowa book cover

The latest annual report on cancer in Iowa estimates 17,400 new cancers will be diagnosed among Iowa residents in 2014.

In addition, an estimated 6,400 Iowans will die from cancer, according to the “Cancer in Iowa: 2014” report released today, Monday, March 10, by the State Health Registry of Iowa, based in the University of Iowa College of Public Health.

“Cancer and heart disease remain the leading causes of death in Iowa,” says Charles Lynch, UI professor of epidemiology and medical director of the registry. “The distribution of different types of cancer is comparable to what the State Health Registry has been reporting in recent years.”

The report, based on data from the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Iowa Cancer Registry, is available online in the publications section on the registry’s website, or by calling the registry at 319-335-8609. The report includes county-by-county statistics, summaries of new research projects, and a section focused on human papillomavirus-related cancers (HPV).

HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections worldwide, and the link between HPV infection and cancer is well established. HPV-related cancers are those found at specific anatomic sites with cellular types in which HPV DNA is frequently found.

Charles Lynch
Charles Lynch

“When discussing HPV-related cancers, we often think only of cervical cancer,” continues Lynch. “But these types of cancers can also be found in the anus, penis, cervix, vagina, vulva, and in the throat and back of the oral cavity.”

HPV infection and HPV-related cancers are a health concern not only to women, but to men as well. In Iowa between 2006 and 2011, almost 40 percent of HPV-related cancers were in men.

HPV-related oropharynx cancers, for instance, are about three times more common in men than women. These are found in the base of the tongue and in the throat including the tonsils. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 8,400 people in the U.S. are diagnosed each year with cancers of the oropharynx that may be caused by HPV.

“There has been an increase in the rate of oropharynx cancer in general over the past 24 years,” says Nitin Pagedar, assistant professor in the Department of Otolaryngology, Division of Head and Neck Surgery in the UI Carver College of Medicine. “This is largely explained by the increasing incidence of HPV-related cancers.”

“With current trends in Iowa and across the country, the rate of HPV-related oropharynx cancers will surpass the number of cervical cancers by the year 2020,” Pagedar says. “Fortunately, HPV-related oropharynx cancer tends to respond better to treatment than cancers at the same sites that are not HPV-related, but, as is usually the case with cancer, prevention and early detection are still critically important.”

George Weiner, director of Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the UI, says the prevention of HPV-related cancer is aided by the availability of vaccines that prevent infection by the two most prevalent cancer-causing types of HPV.

“Achieving widespread HPV vaccination is one of the most profound opportunities for cancer prevention,” Weiner says. “We should be doing everything in our power to support efforts to reach the HPV vaccines' potential to save lives and prevent avoidable cancers and other HPV-related conditions in men and women. Prolonged efforts to prevent, detect, and treat cancer will continue to result in steadily declining cancer death rates.”

The State Health Registry of Iowa has been gathering cancer incidence and follow-up data for the state since 1973.


Bill Barker, University of Iowa College of Public Health Office of Communications and External Relations, 319-384-4277


Email Button