Some cancers remain stubborn to treat. Pancreatic cancer, small cell lung cancer, late stage breast cancer and ovarian cancer are just a few of them. So when researchers find treatments – and even better, ways to prevent cancer – we celebrate.
Scientists at Winship Cancer Institute and many other research centers were therefore concerned about a recent statement that a vaccine to prevent cervical cancer causes mental illness. The statement is not accurate. The vaccine is safe. It is also effective. It is a great example of the medical advances that cancer researchers and clinicians can point to in the struggle against cancer.
The vaccine, which prevents the spread of Human Papilloma Virus-16 or HPV-16, has been approved by the FDA for use in girls who are not yet sexually active. The vaccine is also under consideration for approval in boys to help prevent the spread of HPV16-related head and neck cancers caused by the same virus. Many researchers and clinicians consider HPV16-related head and neck cancers to be at epidemic levels.
“We don’t need to wait until all these molecular events are understood,” said Dong Moon Shin, M.D., director of Winship Cancer Institute’s head and neck cancer prevention program. “This vaccine is successful in preventing cervical cancer, and we are hoping the vaccine provide similar preventive properties in head and neck cancer. We are very hopeful.”