UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center

Leaders of several cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute have united to support human papillomavirus vaccination. Among them is Dr. Cheryl Willman, director and CEO of the University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center.

A team of human papillomavirus experts drafted a consensus statement that advises widespread use of HPV vaccines to prevent cancer. The team included Cosette Wheeler at the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center. The NCI cancer centers distributed the call to action.

Human papillomavirus, or HPV, causes cancer of the cervix, anus and throat. The HPV vaccine can prevent most of these cancer cases, but few girls and boys in the United States get the vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control reports that 27,000 men and women are diagnosed with an HPV-related cancer each year in the United States; that’s one new case of cancer every 20 minutes. The HPV vaccine can prevent most of these cancers but only 40 percent of girls and 21 percent of boys received the vaccine in 2015.

The CDC recommends three doses of the vaccine be given before 13 years of age. The series can be started as early as nine years of age. The CDC recommends giving the vaccine series to young men up to age 21 and to young women up to age 26. The earlier the vaccine is given, the more effective it can be.

In the consensus statement, the NCI-designated cancer center leaders encourage all parents and guardians to have their sons and daughters complete the three-dose vaccination by age 13. They also encourage young men and women who did not receive the vaccine to protect themselves by completing the vaccine series. And they encourage healthcare providers to strongly advocate for HPV vaccination.

To read the consensus statement, visit NCI-designated Cancer Centers Urge HPV Vaccination for the Prevention of Cancer.

Learn more about human papillomavirus, visit Centers for Disease Control.