Prevent Cancer in Men and Women with the HPV Vaccine
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in four people are currently infected with the human papillomavirus (HPV) in the United States. HPV can cause cancer in both men and women. There are 20,000 cancers, other than cervical cancer, caused by HPV infections each year in the United States. Infection may lead to cancers of the penis in men, cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancers in women, and anal, throat, tongue and tonsil cancer in both men and women.
HPV infection does not cause symptoms for most people, which makes it difficult to accept someone we know may be affected. Also, most of the cancers caused by HPV don’t have routine screening like cervical cancer does. Often these other cancers are not detected until later stages when they are more difficult to treat. That’s why getting the HPV vaccine to protect against cancers caused by HPV is so important.
The HPV vaccine can protect people from developing certain types of cancer which are caused by HPV. Because HPV is spread by having vaginal, anal or oral sex with someone who has the virus, it’s important to allow time for individuals to develop immunity before they become sexually active. The optimal timing for the vaccination for children is at 11 or 12 years old for both girls and boys. The vaccination is a two-injection series for anyone under 15 years of age. The second dose should be given six to 12 months after the first dose. Individuals between 15 and 26 years old require a three-injection series.
Your personal doctor is an excellent resource for scheduling the timing of these injections. While the “preteen” years are the most appropriate timing for this vaccination, a young adult who has never had the HPV vaccination is still potentially eligible for this vaccination. Please contact your personal doctor to confirm and schedule recommended immunizations. Having your child vaccinated for HPV prevents the spread of HPV and advocates for cancer prevention in the years to come.
Network Health members with questions about the vaccine can contact QI@networkhealth.com.