Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The HPV Vaccine is a Must for Teens

Jason V. Terk, MD, Keller
Immediate Past President, Texas Pediatric Society
Member, Texas Medical Association Be Wise ― Immunize℠ Physician Advisory Panel

Editor’s Note: Vaccinations are important, safe, and effective. During National Immunization Awareness Month this August, Texas physicians want to remind people of all ages to stay up-to-date on their recommended vaccinations. 

Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published its most recent analysis of cancers caused by infection with human papillomavirus (HPV). The CDC looked at cancer data from 2008-2012 and specifically studied cancers associated with HPV infection, which include cervical, genital, anal, rectal, and oropharyngeal (head and neck) cancers. The rates of these cancers were compared to the rates seen in 2004-2008. 

For the time period studied, nearly 39,000 cancers diagnosed each year were found to be associated with HPV infection. This is 16 percent more than during the previous reporting period. In plain language, that means cancers caused by HPV infection are going up for both women and men. And the vast majority of these cancers can be prevented with better use of the HPV vaccine.

We have the opportunity to save our current generation of teens from the horrible outcomes of these cancers that arise from infection with HPV — an infection nearly all of them will get. The vaccine works best when given at 11-12 years of age. Physicians and other health care providers must do a better job recommending this vaccine without equivocation, and parents must understand their critical role in protecting their kids from this important risk to their future well-being.

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