American Cancer Society Announces Goal to End HPV Cancers
Jun 08, 2018
It has been 12 years since the FDA approved the first HPV vaccine. To mark the occasion, the American Cancer Society has launched a public health campaign with one very ambitious goal – to eliminate vaccine-preventable HPV cancers.
Since the HPV vaccine has been proven to be so highly effective, experts and organizations in the U.S. and around the world are talking about how the vaccine can be used to eliminate HPV cancers, starting with cervical cancer. As one of the most respected cancer organizations in the world, the American Cancer Society is uniquely positioned to lead the fight against all HPV related cancers.
How do they plan to achieve this goal?
By using their Mission: HPV Cancer Free Campaign to increase HPV vaccination rates for preteens to at least 80% by June 2026, the 20-year anniversary of the FDA’s approval of the first HPV vaccine.
Considering the number of adolescents who are receiving other recommended vaccines, like the meningococcal vaccine, this objective seems both reasonable and achievable.
However, in order for the vaccine to prevent any of the six HPV related cancers, such as cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis, anus, head and neck (also called oropharyngeal cancer), children need to be vaccinated before potential exposure. By getting children vaccinated as recommended, at 11-12 years of age, parents can help ensure the vaccine is administered before sexual activity begins, and when studies show children to have the most optimal immune response to the vaccine.
While the HPV vaccine has been shown to be both safe and effective, the unfortunate reality is that only about 40% of boys and girls in the U.S. are fully protected with the recommended 2 or 3 doses of HPV vaccine. This is unfortunate because we know that 9 out of 10 adults will have an HPV infection at some point in their lifetime.
Many of these HPV infections may eventually clear up on their own. However, the fact remains that some infections will develop into dangerous cancers years, or even decades, after initial exposure. While doctors routinely screen for cervical cancer, there are no recommended cancer screening tests for the other 20,000 cases of cancers caused by HPV infections each year in the United States. Considering that there are often no early symptoms of these cancers, many of these cases will go undetected until they have progressed to a late and dangerous stage.
This is why HPV vaccination is so important. Preventing cancer is always better than treating it.
So how can you help the American Cancer Society in their goal to end HPV cancers?
Educate yourself about HPV and make sure the children in your life are vaccinated. Read some of the most common myths about HPV vaccine here and help to dispel these myths by sharing accurate and evidence-based information about HPV and HPV vaccination with your friends and family.
Learn more about HPV and HPV vaccination, by reviewing the informative new resources that have been developed as part of the American Cancer Society’s Mission:HPV Cancer Free campaign, to include the following:
- Take a Shot at Cancer Handout
- HPV: Don’t Wait to Vaccinate
- Protecting Our Children From HPV
- HPV Vaccine: Just the Facts For Parents
Also, hear the stories of HPV cancer survivors and the providers who have cared for them to consider why prevention is critical in our fight to end cancer.
Clinicians and Health Care Providers:
Your strong recommendation is the biggest predictor of whether your patients will receive timely HPV vaccination. To ensure you are prepared to make the most of your discussions with your patients and their parents, check out the library of provider resources available on the National HPV Roundtable website. There is even a special suite of Clinical Action Guides tailored to six different professional audiences, to include:
- Physician/Physician Assistant/Nurse Practitioner Guide
- Nurse & Medical Assistant Guide
- Dental Health Professionals Guide
- Large Health Systems Guide
- Office Team Guide
- Small Private Practices Guide
The goal of the Mission: HPV Cancer Free campaign may be to increase HPV vaccination, but the purpose behind the goal is our ultimate motivator. With the HPV vaccine, we have the power to prevent cancer, and that is something that deserves a chance. By uniting in this endeavor, we can change lives, save lives and make HPV cancer history.
This guest post was written by Alethea Mshar out of concern for her son Ben. A version of this post originally appeared on her blog Ben’s Writing, Running Mom. Like all parents, my child’s health...
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