Cancer specialists reaffirmed their support for the CDC's updated recommendation for vaccination against human papillomavirus (HPV) to prevent cancers associated with HPV infection.
Representatives of all 69 National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers endorsed a consensus statement released today, an affirmation first stated a year ago.
"We feel HPV vaccination represents a rare opportunity to prevent the nearly 40,000 cases of HPV-associated cancers diagnosed annually in the United States," the cancer center representatives said in the statement.
"HPV vaccination is our best defense in stopping HPV infection in our youth and preventing HPV-associated cancers in our communities," the cancer specialists added. "The HPV vaccine is cancer prevention."
In its annual update to vaccination guidance, the CDC recommended two doses of the nine-valent HPV vaccine, administered at least 6 months apart, for all 11-year-old boys and girls. Because the vaccine has increased efficacy at a younger age, the CDC recommended three doses of the vaccine for 15- to 26-year-old males and females who remained unvaccinated.
The CDC first recommended HPV vaccination a decade ago. Nonetheless, uptake of the various vaccines has lagged behind vaccination rates for other recommended vaccines. A 2016 status report showed that 41.9% of girls and 28.1% of boys had completed the recommended vaccine series, far short of the 80% uptake goal for 2020 established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the Healthy People 2020 initiative.
Citing data from the CDC, the cancer centers' consensus statement noted that 79 million Americans are infected with HPV, and 14 million new infections occur each year. Certain high-risk strains of HPV account for a majority of several types of cancer, including cervical, anal, oropharyngeal, and other cancers involving the genitalia in men and women.
"We encourage all healthcare providers to be advocates for cancer prevention by making strong recommendations for childhood HPV vaccination," authors of the consensus statement said. "We ask providers to join forces to educate parents, guardians, and colleagues about the importance and benefits of HPV vaccination."
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