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Vaccine Could Prevent About 92% of HPV Cancers

CDC Reports Good News, Bad News

During 2012 to 2016, an average of 43,999 cancers associated with the human papillomavirus (HPV) were reported each year, according to a study reported in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Among the estimated 34,800 cancers probably caused by HPV, 92% are attributable to the types included in the HPV vaccine and could be prevented if HPV vaccine recommendations were followed, according to the report.

CDC researchers analyzed 2012–2016 data from the CDC’s National Program of Cancer Registries and the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program to determine the incidence of HPV-associated cancers, and to estimate the annual number of cancers attributable to the HPV types in the currently available HPV vaccine. This report marks the first time these data are available at the state level.

HPV is a common virus, and most infections are transient and asymptomatic and cause no clinical problems. However, HPV infection can also lead to cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis, anus, and oropharynx. During the period studied, an average of 34,800 HPV-attributable cancers were diagnosed each year. The most common were cervical (9,700) and oropharyngeal (12,600). Oropharyngeal cancer was the most common cancer attributable to the vaccine types in all states, except in Texas, where cervical cancer was most common.

The CDC recommends that children get the HPV vaccine when they are 11 or 12 years old, but so-called “catchup” vaccination is recommended through age 26. However, additional new data also published in MMWR show little progress toward increasing HPV vaccination rates among teens aged 13 to 17. These data, collected as part of the 2018 National Immunization Survey Teen (NIS-Teen) show a 4% increase in HPV vaccination rates among teenaged boys and less than a 1% increase among teenaged girls. Overall, just 51% of all teens had received all recommended doses of the HPV vaccine, a 2% increase from 2017.

HPV vaccination rates were higher in teens whose parents reported receiving a recommendation from their child’s healthcare professional. Consistently, data show that physicians are the most trusted source of information for parents of preteens who are eligible for vaccination. The new data show that three of four parents who received a medical recommendation for the HPV vaccine chose to have their child vaccinated.

Source: CDC, August 22, 2019

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