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Massey joins with nation’s NCI Cancer Centers to endorse goal of eliminating HPV-related cancers

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Recognizing that cancers caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) are a significant public health problem, VCU Massey Cancer Center has again joined with the other 69 National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer centers to fully endorse the goal of eliminating cancers caused by HPV through gender-neutral HPV vaccination and evidence-based cancer screening. These practices offer a rare opportunity to prevent 12,000 cervical cancers and nearly 40,000 other HPV-related cancers (oropharyngeal, anal, penile, vulvar and vaginal cancers) among men and women annually in the United States.

An effective and safe vaccine is available that prevents the large majority of cancer-causing HPV infections. In addition, health care providers can use proven methods to screen for and treat cervical pre-cancers.

“VCU Massey Cancer Center strongly recommends the use of the HPV vaccine and encourages parents of boys and girls between 11 and 12 years, or starting as early as 9 years, to request the vaccine from their pediatrician or family physician,” says Bernard Fuemmeler, Ph.D., M.P.H., associate director for cancer prevention and control at VCU Massey Cancer Center. “We all want our children to have a better life than we had. We have a tremendous opportunity with the HPV vaccine to give our children a future free from HPV-related diseases.”

Unfortunately, HPV vaccination completion rates across the U.S. remain low. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 49.5 percent of girls and only 37.5 percent of boys, ages 13-17 years, in the U.S. completed the vaccine series in 2016. These rates are significantly lower than those for other recommended adolescent vaccinations and fall well below the necessary target of 80 percent coverage needed to eradicate HPV in the population (and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Healthy People 2020 objective).

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Increased HPV vaccination rates combined with appropriate cervical cancer screening measures could soon eliminate cervical cancer, with other HPV-related cancers in males and females to follow. Therefore, as national leaders in cancer research and cancer care, the NCI Cancer Centers issued the following Call to Action in alignment with the nation’s Healthy People 2020 goals:

  • Vaccination of more than 80 percent of males and females ages 13-15 by 2020;
  • Screen 93 percent of age-eligible females for cervical cancer by 2020; and
  • Provide prompt follow up and proper treatment of females who screen positive for high grade cervical pre-cancerous lesions.

In addition, the NCI Cancer Centers strongly encourage:

  • Young men and women up to age 26, who were not previously vaccinated, to complete the recommended HPV vaccine series;
  • Health care providers to make clear and strong recommendations for HPV vaccination and cervical cancer screening; and
  • The health care community to educate parents, guardians, community members and colleagues about the goal of eliminating cancers caused by HPV in the U.S.

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.

“HPV is a common infection affecting most people at some point in their lifetimes, and it can cause several types of cancers in adulthood,” says HPV expert Iain Morgan, Ph.D., who is a member of Massey’s Cancer Molecular Genetics research program as well as the director of the VCU Philips Institute for Oral Health Research and a professor and chair of oral and craniofacial molecular biology at VCU. “The HPV vaccine can prevent the majority of cervical, anal, oropharyngeal and other genital cancers if given to adolescents prior to their exposure to the virus.”

The HPV vaccine PREVENTS CANCER. Make sure your loved ones are vaccinated and protected. More information is available from the CDC.

The official statement from the NCI Cancer Centers is supported by the American Cancer Society (ACS), the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the Prevent Cancer Foundation, the American Society for Preventive Oncology (ASPO) and the Association of American Cancer Institutes (AACI)

Written by: Jenny Owen

Posted on: June 8, 2018