Former IndyCar Driver Diagnosed with HPV-Related Throat Cancer

By Sara Bondell - August 28, 2019

Former IndyCar driver and veteran broadcaster Brian Till is taking the rest of the racing season off to be treated for cancer.

Till says he was diagnosed with HPV-related tonsil and throat cancer. “We mostly hear HPV mentioned with young girls and women, but for men, HPV head and neck cancers are now at near epidemic levels,” he said.

Actor Michael Douglas and actress Marcia Cross’s husband have also been public about how HPV caused their own battles with throat cancer.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates more than three times the amount of men are diagnosed with HPV-related oropharyngeal cancers than women in the United States each year.

Dr. Caitlin McMullen, surgeon

Dr. Caitlin McMullen, a surgeon in Moffitt Cancer Center’s Head and Neck Oncology Program, says HPV-related oropharyngeal cancers—which include cancer of the tonsils, base of the tongue and throat—have been increasing since the 1970s.

“We see this type of cancer every day at Moffitt,” said McMullen. “Traditionally, oropharyngeal cancers were caused most often by smoking, but now more than 70% of these cancers are related to HPV.”

Fortunately, HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer has a better prognosis than smoking-related cancer. There is also a HPV vaccine that can help prevent this cancer.

Till says he hopes his story will encourage everyone to take advantage of the HPV vaccine for their children.

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Sara Bondell Medical Science Writer More Articles


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