Exec’s throat cancer: What it might mean for the rest of us.

On Tuesday, Jamie Dimon, the chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase revealed in an internal memo that he has throat cancer. “The good news is that the prognosis from my doctors is excellent, the cancer was caught quickly, and my condition is curable,” he wrote.

We don’t know how Dimon got throat cancer, or whether the characterization of his prognosis is accurate. But that didn’t stop Matthew Herper of Forbes from writing a very nice piece headlined, “Why Thousands Of Men Like JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon Are Getting Throat Cancer.”

“It’s impossible to speculate on Dimon’s cancer beyond what he put in his memo,” Herper begins. “But it’s very possible that Dimon has been swept up, along with thousands of other men, by an increasingly common disease: throat cancer caused by infection with the human papilloma virus, or HPV.”

This deftly allows Herper to use Dimon’s cancer as a peg to write about an important form of throat cancer, even if it isn’t the kind of cancer Dimon has. It “wouldn’t be unusual” for Dimon to have HPV-related throat cancer, an oncologist tells Herper. “This is an epidemic.”

And it’s striking professionals, among others. He reports that Maura Gillison, an Ohio State researcher

… told me how when enrolling a study several years ago, she’d recruited, in sequence, a malpractice lawyer, doctor, a scientist and a rear admiral. The first patient I spoke to about his HPV throat cancer was a consultant and economist who later died from his disease. Two years ago, I wrote about a 50-year-old biotech CEO who also had HPV throat cancer. Last year, the actor Michael Douglas said that his throat cancer was caused by HPV.

The point is that these are men much like Dimon: CEOs and consultants, men at the peak of their lives and professional power. And their numbers are increasing.

Herper then goes on to do a straightforward update on what’s known about HPV-related cancer–the risks and possible treatments, and so forth. He also notes that this is another reason why HPV vaccines should be used more broadly, even in boys and young men.

And he ends by circling back to where he began, reminding us that we don’t know what caused Dimon’s cancer. “But what we do know is that this virus is likely to give cancer to a lot of men who look a lot like him in the years to come.”

-Paul Raeburn




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