US Cancer Centers Again Support HPV Vaccination

Zosia Chustecka

January 11, 2017

For the second year running, top cancer centers across the United States have come together to issue a statement supporting vaccination against human papillomavirus (HPV).

"We feel that HPV vaccination represents a rare opportunity to prevent the nearly 40,000 cases of HPV-associated cancers diagnosed annually in the United States," reads the statement, issued jointly by 69 National Cancer Institute (NCI)–designated cancer centers on January 11. Download the statement here.

A similar statement was issued by the 69 cancer centers last year.

"Several types of high-risk HPV are responsible for many of the cervical, anal, oropharyngeal, and other genital cancers affecting men and women," reads the new statement.

"Although many of these HPV-associated cancers are preventable with the safe and effective vaccine, HPV vaccination rates across the US remain low," it continues. Current rates are 41.9% in girls and 28.1% in boys, which is far below the 80% goal set by the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Increase vaccination rates so our nation's children don't grow up to become cancer patients.

"As national leaders in cancer research and clinical care, we are compelled to collectively call upon parents and health care providers to increase vaccination rates so our nation's children don't grow up to become cancer patients," the statement reads.

It concludes with an emphasis in capital letters that "HPV vaccination is CANCER PREVENTION."

Endorses New Dosing Schedule

The new statement also endorses the recently revised dosing recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC now recommends that boys and girls aged 11 to 12 years receive two doses of the HPV vaccine at least 6 months apart. This new dosing schedule in younger children "makes it easier for both parents and providers," it comments. Adolescents and young adults older than 15 should continue to complete the three-dose series, it adds.

The statement also emphasizes safety, noting that the US Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization have both confirmed the safety of HPV vaccines. "The vaccines have a safety profile similar to that of other vaccines approved for adolescents in the US," it adds.

Cancer Center Summit Meetings

These statements issued jointly by the 69 NCI-designated cancer centers have emerged after national summit meetings to discuss the latest research findings and practices for improving vaccination rates. The first such summit was held at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, in Houston, in November 2015; the first joint statement endorsing HPV vaccination was issued in January 2016. The latest summit meeting was held at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, in Columbus, in the summer of 2016 and led to this latest statement being issued now.

"I am extremely encouraged that all of these institutions, representing the leaders in our country's cancer care and research, are working collaboratively together toward this common goal," commented Ernest Hawk, MD, vice president and head of the Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences at the MD Anderson Cancer Center.

"We hope our collective action will inspire confidence in parents, young adults, and physicians to take advantage of this rare opportunity to prevent several cancers in the next generation," he said in a statement.