UPCI and UPMC CancerCenter Join National Call for More HPV Vaccinations to Prevent Cancer

University of Pittsburgh and UPMC

01/27/2016

The University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI), partner with UPMC CancerCenter, has joined with all National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers today to endorse a joint statement urging parents, young adults and physicians to increase rates of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination to prevent cancer.

HPV infections are responsible for about 27,000 new cancer diagnoses each year in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, less than 40 percent of girls and just over 21 percent of boys receive the recommended three doses that could prevent cervical and other cancers.

“The HPV vaccine is a tangible example of all the progress we’ve made toward fighting cancer, and it’s imperative that we overcome the barriers that are preventing people from getting this,” said Nancy E. Davidson, M.D., director of UPCI. “We can save lives and prevent cancer through the HPV vaccine.”

In response to low national vaccination rates for HPV, the nation’s top cancer centers collectively recognize insufficient vaccination as a public health threat and call upon the nations’ physicians, parents and young adults to take advantage of this rare opportunity to prevent many types of cancer. The NCI-designated cancer centers decided to take action in the spirit of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union call for a national “moonshot” to cure cancer, a collaborative effort led by Vice President Joe Biden.

“This initiative is directly aligned with the desire of the President, Vice President and all Americans to work constructively together to eradicate cancer,” says Ernest Hawk, M.D., vice president and division head, Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, who headed the effort to release today’s statement. “This is one example of actions that can be taken today to make a very big difference in the future cancer burden.”

Research shows there are a number of barriers to overcome to improve vaccination rates, including a lack of strong recommendations from physicians and lack of understanding by parents that this vaccine protects against several types of cancer.

"Throat cancer caused by this virus has become increasingly prevalent. It can be prevented through a safe vaccine,” said Jonas Johnson, M.D., chair of the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and UPMC. “All children should be offered this protection.”

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