HPV vaccine prevents cancers
As chair of the President’s Cancer Panel, I take seriously our mandated responsibility to identify barriers to achieving the nation’s potential to control cancer. Preventing cancer is the best way to assure the health of our people, and studies show that most people in the U.S. know that smoking kills. Smoking rates have declined dramatically since 1964. Many people know that obesity has been implicated in cancers as well as heart disease, diabetes and a host of other diseases and conditions. But too few people are aware that several years ago, a new vaccine was added to the cancer prevention arsenal. The HPV vaccine is safe, effective and will prevent most cervical cancers as well as vaginal cancers, anal cancers and genital warts. The vaccine probably will prevent many oropharyngeal cancers, a type of cancer that is increasing in men and women, but the data still are developing. Each year, about 35,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with HPV-related cancers. Globally, this number exceeds 600,000; a sobering fact on World Cancer Day.
Last week, I spoke first to the National Vaccine Advisory Committee and later in the week to the National Cancer Advisory Board about the need for a coordinated, focused effort to increase uptake of HPV vaccine among 11- to 12-year-old boys and girls in the U.S. (By the way, Australia, Canada and the U.K. are ahead of us.) We should stop talking about sex and HPV vaccine and start telling it like it is. This is a safe vaccine that prevents cancers. Why would parents not want the best for their kids? A vaccine that prevents cancers is one more way to protect our children from bad things that can happen later in life. CDC has a lot of good information about the HPV vaccines. Valentine’s Day is this week. Love shouldn’t just be about candy and flowers. It should also be about doing the right things for the people we love. Think Valentine’s Day Vaccine! (And flowers.)
Happy Monday. Barbara