All National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer centers have united to support human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination (see below). A team of HPV experts drafted a consensus statement that advises widespread use of HPV vaccines to prevent cancer.
HPV causes cancer of the cervix, anus, and throat. The HPV vaccine can prevent most of these cancer cases, but not all girls and boys in the United States get the vaccine.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends three doses of the vaccine be given before 13 years of age. The series can be started as early as 9 years of age. The CDC recommends giving the vaccine series to young men up to age 21 and to young women up to age 26. The earlier the vaccine is given, the more effective it can be.
In the consensus statement, the NCI-designated cancer center leaders encourage all parents and guardians to have their sons and daughters complete the three-dose vaccination by age 13. They also encourage young men and women who did not receive the vaccine to protect themselves by completing the vaccine series. Additionally, they encourage health-care providers to strongly advocate for HPV vaccination.
NCI Consensus Statement
“Approximately 79 million people in the United States are currently infected with HPV, according to the CDC, and 14 million new infections occur each year. Several types of high-risk HPV are responsible for the vast majority of cervical, anal, oropharyngeal, and other genital cancers. The CDC also reports that each year in the United States, 27,000 men and women are diagnosed with an HPV-related cancer, which amounts to a new case every 20 minutes. Even though many of these HPV-related cancers are preventable with a safe and effective vaccine, HPV vaccination rates across the U.S. remain low.
Together we, the NCI-designated Cancer Centers, recognize these low rates of HPV vaccination as a serious public health threat. HPV vaccination represents a rare opportunity to prevent many cases of cancer that is tragically underused. As national leaders in cancer research and clinical care, we are compelled to jointly issue this call to action.
According to a 2015 CDC report, only 40% of girls and 21% of boys in the U.S. are receiving the recommended three doses of the HPV vaccine. This falls far short of the goal of 80% by the end of this decade, set forth by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Healthy People 2020 mission. Furthermore, U.S. rates are significantly lower than those of countries such as Australia (75%), the United Kingdom (84%–92%), and Rwanda (93%), which have shown that high vaccination rates are currently achievable.
The HPV vaccines, like all vaccines used in the United States, passed extensive safety testing before and after being approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The vaccines have a safety profile similar to that of other vaccines approved for adolescents in the United States. Internationally, the safety of HPV vaccines has been tested and approved by the World Health Organization’s Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety.
The CDC recommends that boys and girls receive three doses of HPV vaccine at ages 11 or 12 years. The HPV vaccine series can be started in preteens as early as age 9 and should be completed before the 13th birthday. The HPV vaccine is more effective the earlier it is given; however, it is also recommended for young women until age 26 and young men until age 21.
The low vaccination rates are alarming given our current ability to safely and effectively save lives by preventing HPV infection and its associated cancers. Therefore, the 69 NCI-designated cancer centers urge parents and health-care providers to protect the health of our children through a number of actions:
HPV vaccination is our best defense in stopping HPV infection in our youth and preventing HPV-related cancers in our communities. The HPV vaccine is cancer prevention. More information is available from the CDC.” ■