Take a Stand to End HPV Cancer by Making Effective Vaccination Recommendations
Issue: #403 SEP2018
The American Cancer Society announced on June 6, 2018 that the organization is launching the Mission: HPV Cancer Free campaign to eliminate vaccine-preventable HPV cancers. The goal of this historic campaign is to increase HPV vaccination rates for pre-teen boys and girls to 80% by the year 2026, the 20th anniversary of the first FDA approval for the vaccine. It’s a daunting goal – but with the combined support of all the organizations working to improve HPV vaccination, it is an attainable one.
As you may know, the human papillomavirus (HPV) causes six types of cancer and is a common infection. In fact, 9 out of 10 adults – both men and women – are infected with HPV at some point in their lives. Fortunately, we have a vaccine that will prevent this infection from ever occurring and therefore prevent many of the cancers it causes.
In a historic move, the American Cancer Society issued their first ever elimination statement on cervical cancer this year, stating, “Never in history has a cancer been eliminated, but the American Cancer Society believes the elimination of cervical cancer is a very real possibility if two conditions are met: 1.) Sustained 80% HPV vaccination coverage for pre-teen boys and girls, and 2.) Continued routine screening and treatment for cervical pre-cancers.” The National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer centers issued a statement in June fully endorsing the goal of eliminating cancers caused by HPV through gender-neutral HPV vaccination and evidence-based cancer screening.
Unfortunately, the US lags behind other developed countries in protecting our children against HPV cancers. 6 out of 10 of girls and boys aged 13-17 have started the HPV vaccination series, but only 4 out of 10 of girls and boys are up to date on getting the full series.
North Dakota has seen steady improvement in HPV vaccination, yet rates continue to fall far behind other adolescent vaccination rates, as seen in this table highlighting regional performance:
Series Completion of HPV Vaccination Coverage Compared to Tdap & MCV4, 13-17 years, National Immunization Survey-Teens (NIS-Teen), 2016 https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/66/wr/mm6633a2.htm
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This is an unprecedented opportunity to save lives and reduce the HPV cancer burden. No one should face a diagnosis of cancer that could be prevented. The HPV vaccine is safe, effective, and proven to prevent HPV infections that lead to cancer. If we vaccinated all of
our 11-to-12-year-olds, we could see a generation of HPV cancer-free adults.
What can you do to help end HPV cancers?
- Educate and offer vaccination as appropriate to your patients. For parent education materials, visit www.cancer.org/hpv
- Find resources on making an effective recommendation for HPV vaccination at: https://www.cancer.org/health-care-professionals/hpv-vaccination-information-for-health-professionals.html
- Watch for upcoming opportunities to be part of the effort to increase HPV vaccination in your community.
To see a world free of cervical cancer, please consider joining this effort.