Joint statement empowers parents, young adults and physicians to act to increase vaccination rates and screenings to eliminate HPV-related cancers, starting with cervical cancer.
(PHILADELPHIA) — Nearly 80 million Americans – one out of every four people – are infected with human papillomavirus (HPV). Each year, 14 million new HPV infections occur and more than 31,000 will be diagnosed with an HPV-related cancer. Despite those staggering figures and the availability of a safe, effective vaccine to prevent the infections that cause these cancers, HPV vaccination remains low in the United States.
The Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center – Jefferson Health (SKCC) has partnered with the 69 other National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer centers to issue a statement urging for increased HPV vaccination and screening to eliminate HPV-related cancers, starting with cervical cancer. As leaders in cancer research and care, these institutions collectively recognize insufficient vaccination as a public health threat and call upon the nations’ physicians, parents and young adults to take advantage of this rare opportunity to eliminate several different types of cancer in men and women.
“It’s simple: HPV vaccination is cancer prevention. The Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center is dedicated to working both locally and nationally to increase vaccination rates, and are proud to have leading experts in HPV research embedded within our center,” said SKCC Director Karen E. Knudsen, PhD. “Vaccination rates in Philadelphia are much higher than average—for both boys and girls—which is of critical importance. We look forward to sharing our expertise and eliminating HPV-driven cancers.”
High HPV vaccination rates combined with cervical cancer screening and treatment will result in the elimination of cervical cancer in the near future and elimination of other HPV-related cancers thereafter. However, HPV vaccination rates remain significantly lower than other recommended adolescent vaccines in the U.S. overall. According to 2016 data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), less than 50 percent of girls and 38 percent of boys completed the recommended vaccine series, well below the nation’s goal of 80 percent coverage by the end of this decade.
Research shows there are a number of barriers to overcome to improve vaccination rates, including a lack of strong recommendations from physicians and parents not understanding that this vaccine protects against several types of cancer in men and women, including cervical, anal, oropharyngeal and other genital cancers.
HPV experts from SKCC and the nation’s other top cancer centers, along with partners from the NCI, CDC, and the American Cancer Society, are meeting June 7-8 in Salt Lake City to discuss a path forward to eliminating cancers caused by HPV, including ways to reduce barriers to vaccination, as well as share education, training and intervention strategies to improve vaccination rates.
This is the third year that all NCI-designated cancer centers have come together to issue a national call to action. All 70 cancer centers unanimously share the goal of sending a powerful message to parents, adolescents and health care providers about the importance of HPV vaccination for the elimination of HPV-related cancers.
To read the full consensus statement from the NCI-designated cancer centers, click here.