Newswise — Recognizing a critical need to improve national vaccination rates for the human papillomavirus (HPV), The University of Kansas Cancer Center has again united with each of the 69 National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer centers in issuing a joint statement in support of recently revised recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“As an NCI-designated cancer center, we are focused on significantly improving the health of our communities and reducing the cancer burden in our region. And one of our biggest challenges is increasing human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination rates across the state of Kansas,” said Roy A. Jensen, M.D., director of KU Cancer Center.
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 United States. Although HPV vaccines can prevent the majority of cervical, anal, oropharyngeal (middle throat) and other genital cancers, vaccination rates remain low across the U.S., with just 41.9 percent of girls and 28.1 percent of boys completing the recommended vaccine series.
“We are seeing far too many new cases of preventable cancers caused by the HPV virus,” Jensen said.
The new guidelines from the CDC recommend that children aged 11 to 12 should receive two doses of the HPV vaccine at least six months apart. Adolescents and young adults older than 15 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.
In an effort to overcome these barriers, NCI-designated cancer centers have organized a continuing series of national summits to share new research, discuss best practices, and identify collective action toward improving vaccination rates.
The original joint statement, published in January 2016, was the major recommendation from a summit hosted at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer last November, which brought together experts from the NCI, CDC, American Cancer Society and more than half of the NCI-designated cancer centers.
“We have been inspired by the White House Cancer Moonshot to work together in eliminating cancer,” said Electra Paskett, Ph.D., Associate Director for Population Sciences at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) Cancer Control Research Program. “Improving HPV vaccination is an example of an evidence-based prevention strategy we can implement today to save thousands of lives in the future.”
The updated statement is the result of discussions from the most recent summit, hosted this summer by OSUCCC – James. Nearly 150 experts from across the country gathered in Columbus to present research updates and plan future collaborative actions across NCI-designated cancer centers.
“We encourage all parents and guardians to have their sons and daughters complete the vaccine series,” said Jensen. “HPV vaccination is cancer prevention and the best defense in stopping HPV-related cancers in our communities.”