Tuesday, April 19, 2016

HPV Vaccine Prevents Cancer in Women and Men

I have a confession:  When it comes to getting shots, I’m not a fan.  Lucky for me, nobody asked my opinion back when I was getting vaccinated for measles, mumps, rubella, polio, and other preventable diseases.  But what if there was a vaccine to prevent cancer?  I’d be first in line for a shot that would guarantee that I would never have to worry about that dreadful disease!   

Although a vaccine to prevent cancer seems like a science fiction fantasy, scientists have developed a vaccine that prevents certain types of cancer caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).  Studies have shown that HPV can cause several types of cancer in both women and men.  Since the introduction of the HPV vaccine in the United States, the prevalence of vaccine-type HPV has decreased 56% among female teenagers.   Now that's a success story!  However, there’s still room for improvement.  While HPV is commonly associated with cervical cancer, it is known to cause certain types of cancer in men, including penile, anal, mouth and throat cancer.   According to the CDC  , only 34.6% of boys received at least one dose of the HPV vaccine in 2013, and just 13.9% of boys aged 13 – 17 received all three recommended doses of the vaccine. 

HPV is a very common sexually-transmitted virus.  In fact, the CDC estimates that nearly all sexually active men and women will get it at some point in their lives.    So if you’d like to be protected, the vaccine is recommended for males through age 21 and females through age 26, although some people choose to receive the vaccine even beyond the recommended age.  Student Health has the HPV vaccine Gardasil in stock and it’s available by appointment.  Call 913-588-1941 to schedule and inquire about fees.

My name is Jennifer Blanck, RN, and I am always happy to hear from students and help in any way I can. Feel free to give me a call if you have any questions regarding your requirements. My direct line is 913-588-2018.