As HPV-Associated Cancer Incidence Rates Rise: What’s the Value of the HPV Vaccine?

HPV Vaccine Cervical CancerA recent report from the National Health Institute shows that overall cancer rates among men and women are on the decline but the incidence rates of certain HPV-associated cancers are increasing. This news concerns healthcare professionals because they know there is a vaccine on the market that can prevent cervical cancer in girls and decrease the incidence of other HPV-related cancers. Gardasil, FDA approved and released in 2006, is a vaccine that helps protect girls ages 9 – 26 against two types of HPV that cause about 75% of cervical cancer cases, as well as two other types of HPV that cause genital warts, vaginal, vulvar, anal and oropharyngeal (head and neck, back-of-throat, tongue and tonsils) cancers.

The report also showed that the US vaccination rates among young girls, compared to other industrialized nations, are low. In 2010, less than 50% of girls ages 13 through 17 had received one HPV vaccine dose and unfortunately only a third received all three recommended doses. Completion rates were lower in certain areas of the country and with different population groups:

  • Girls living in the South
  • Girls living below poverty level
  • Hispanic girls

The US Government’s Healthy People 2020 target is 80 percent for the three dose coverage. It is important to educate healthcare providers and parents of the importance of completing the 3- dose vaccine schedule. The vaccine is safe and effective. It also is a great example of the medical advances that cancer researchers and clinicians can point to in the struggle against cancer. We could save the lives of many women and men by encouraging parents to get their children vaccinated today!

To get more information on the vaccine we recommend you speak to your pediatrician or child’s primary care physician. You can also review other blogs from Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University physicians (listed below), or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

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