Newswise — LA JOLLA, Calif., June 7, 2018 – Nearly 80 million Americans – one out of every four people – are infected with human papillomavirus (HPV). And of those millions, more than 31,000 will be diagnosed with an HPV-related cancer this year. Despite those staggering figures and the availability of a vaccine to prevent the infections that cause these cancers, HPV vaccination remains low in the United States.
Sanford Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) has partnered with 69 other National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer centers to issue a statement urging for increased HPV vaccination and screening to eliminate HPV-related cancers, starting with cervical cancer. These institutions 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 eliminate several different types of cancer in men and women.
“We have the opportunity to eliminate multiple HPV-related cancers beginning with cervical cancer. To accomplish this goal, we need to utilize our most important tool – HPV vaccination,” said Anna R. Giuliano, Ph.D., director of the Center for Infection Research in Cancer at Moffitt Cancer Center. “We are asking health care providers to stand with us and recommend the HPV vaccine. Parents can join with us by asking their doctors about vaccination.”
“The development of a vaccine for HPV has been a tremendous advance in the fight against cancers such as cervical, anal, oropharyngeal, vaginal and penile cancers,” says Garth Powis, D. Phil., director of SBP’s NCI-designated Cancer Center. “We stand by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommendation that all children between the ages of 9-13 complete the HPV vaccination series to prevent HPV-related cancers.”
Vaccination rates remain significantly lower than other recommended adolescent vaccines in the U.S. According 2016 data from the CDC, less than 50 percent of girls and 38 percent of boys completed the recommended vaccine 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 in men and women.
HPV experts from the nation’s top cancer centers, along with partners from the NCI, CDC, and the American Cancer Society, are meeting June 7-8 in Salt Lake City to discuss a path forward to eliminating cancers caused by HPV, including ways to reduce barriers to vaccination, as well as share education, training and intervention strategies to improve vaccination rates.
“The United States has an unprecedented opportunity to not just prevent cancers caused by HPV but to eliminate them. This means getting to a point in time when cancers such as cervical cancer are no longer diagnosed in our country,” said Giuliano.
This is the third year that all NCI-designated cancer centers have come together to issue a national call to action. All 70 cancer centers unanimously share the goal of sending a powerful message to parents, adolescents and health care providers about the importance of HPV vaccination for the elimination of HPV-related cancers.
Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) is an independent nonprofit medical research organization that conducts world-class, collaborative, biological research and translates its discoveries for the benefit of patients. SBP focuses its research on cancer, immunity, neurodegeneration, metabolic disorders and rare children’s diseases. The Institute invests in talent, technology and partnerships to accelerate the translation of laboratory discoveries that will have the greatest impact on patients. Recognized for its world-class NCI-designated Cancer Center and the Conrad Prebys Center for Chemical Genomics, SBP employs about 900 scientists and staff in San Diego (La Jolla), Calif., and Orlando (Lake Nona), Fla. For more information, visit us at SBPdiscovery.org or on Facebook at facebook.com/SBPdiscovery and on Twitter @SBPdiscovery.