ROCHESTER, Minn. — Mayo Clinic Cancer Center today joined with 69 National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers in issuing a joint statement supporting updated HPV vaccination guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
"The HPV vaccine is a proven way to prevent certain types of cancer, but it's not being used widely enough," says Robert Diasio, M.D., director of the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center. "We want people to know this is an opportunity to prevent cancer and save lives."
According to the CDC, incidence rates of HPV-associated cancers have continued to rise, with approximately 39,000 new HPV-associated cancers now diagnosed each year in the U.S. Although HPV vaccines can prevent most cervical, anal, oropharyngeal (middle throat) and other genital cancers, vaccination rates remain low across the U.S. Just 41.9 percent of girls and 28.1 percent of boys complete the recommend vaccine series.
The new guidelines from the CDC recommend that children 11―12 should receive two doses of the HPV vaccine at least six months apart. Adolescents and young adults older than 15 years should continue to complete the three-dose series.
Research shows there are a number of barriers to overcome to improve vaccination rates, including a lack of strong recommendations from physicians and parents not understanding that this vaccine protects against several types of cancer.
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"As a gynecologic oncologist, I care for women with cervical cancer, a cancer caused almost exclusively by HPV infection," says Jamie Bakkum-Gamez, M.D., of Mayo Clinic. "Preventing this cancer, which can be done by vaccinating against HPV, will protect women from the morbidity and lethality of the cancer and its therapy. The extensive cancer treatments that are needed to treat cervical cancer eliminate fertility, cause permanent tissue damage and don’t promise a cancer cure." Dr. Bakkum-Gamez says the best defense against cancers caused by HPV is to vaccinate girls and boys against HPV according to the new guidelines.
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