HPV Vaccine Could Shifts Rates of Non-Cervical Cancers

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Jan. 12, 2022 — A recent headline about dramatic reductions in cervical cancer among young women as a result of the HPV vaccine did not tell the whole story of how vaccination could also have an impact on many other cancer types.

Even with the good news of cervical cancer rates dropping dramatically, HPV is still associated with a wide range of other cancers, says Daniel Kelly, RN, PhD, co-chair of the HPV Action Network of the European Cancer Organization.

HPV is also associated with anal, penile, vaginal, vulval, and throat cancers, rates of which have been increasing in recent years.

As HPV vaccination in girls has already had such a profound impact on cervical cancer rates, it is expected that universal HPV vaccination (of boys as well as girls) would also cause a shift in the relative rates of these other cancers, Kelly says.

“These are difficult cancers to treat,” Kelly says, and they are also difficult cancers in terms of the impact they can have on everyday activities.

It’s almost 100 years since Dr. Papanicolaou created the Pap test to screen for cervical cancer. Now it is also preventable with HPV vaccination. @AmericanCancer funds cervical cancer research with $6.8M invested over the previous 5 years to 33 investigators at 25 institutions. pic.twitter.com/W8TznWZaIP

— Bill Cance (@AmerCancerCMSO) January 9, 2022

For someone with head and neck cancer, “you might take away their ability to speak, to swallow,” while penile cancer“is certainly very devastating to men who are diagnosed.”

In order to highlight the impact of these cancers, and to raise awareness of universal HPV vaccination for boys as well as girls, Kelly’s group launched a series of testimonies that illustrate how doctors may initially miss a diagnosis of HPV-related head and neck

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