LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 11, 2017) – Recognizing a critical need to improve national vaccination rates for the human papillomavirus (HPV), the University of Kentucky Markey 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 immunization recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
According to the CDC, incidence rates of HPV-associated cancers continue to rise, with approximately 39,000 new HPV-associated cancers now diagnosed each year in the United States. Although HPV vaccination 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 recommend vaccine series. In Kentucky, the rates are even lower with just 36.2 percent of adolescent girls and 17.1 percent of adolescent boys having completed the series.
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 age 15 should continue to complete the three-dose series.
“HPV vaccination rates in Kentucky are extremely low, especially among adolescent males,” said Dr. Mark Evers, director of the UK Markey Cancer Center. “We fully support these new immunization guidelines and hope they encourage more parents to have their children vaccinated, which will significantly lower their risk of developing these largely preventable cancers.”
Research shows there are a number of barriers to overcome to improve HPV 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 HPV 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 in November 2015, which brought together experts from the NCI, CDC, American Cancer Society and more than half of the NCI-designated cancer centers, including UK Markey Cancer Center.
“We have been inspired by the White House Cancer Moonshot to work together in eliminating cancer,” said Electra Paskett, Ph.D., associate director of 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. Nearly 150 experts from across the country, including representatives from the UK Markey Cancer Center, gathered in Columbus to present research updates and plan future collaborative actions across NCI-designated cancer centers.
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