“Every visit to a provider can be an opportunity to prevent cervical cancer by making sure women are referred for screening appropriately. We must increase our efforts to make sure that all women understand the importance of getting screened for cervical cancer. No woman should die from cervical cancer.”
-Ileana Arias, Ph.D., CDC Principal Deputy Director
Approximately 79 million people in the US are infected with the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and of those infected a portion will develop cancer. Centers for Disease Control recent data from the National Program of Cancer Registries and the Surveillance, Epidemiology & End Results (SEER) program demonstrated an average of 33,369 HPV related cancers are diagnosed annually in the US. Over thirty five percent are cervical cancer and another 35% are oropharyngeal (throat) cancer. Cervical cancer disporportionately affects African American & Latin American women while other HPV related cancers disproportionately affect men. Cervical Cancer and Human Papillomavirus related cancers are preventable. With the use of the pap test as a screen for cervical cancer and HPV vaccination as the gold stardard, cervical cancer is one of the few preventable cancers in the world. No woman should die from cervical cancer. Despite this, CDC’s recent study results indicate eight million women in the US are not being screened for cervical cancer each year. The reports also indicates that HPV vaccination rates are at an unacceptably low rate in our country and parents report lack of knowledge as the as the primary reason for not vaccinating their teens. In the US, only an estimated 57% of girls and 30% of boys have received at least one dose of the HPV vaccine. This unfortunate fact is true even with a new vaccine recently approved. The first HPV vaccine was approved for the prevention of cervical in 2006 and currently there are 3 HPV vaccines available for female and male patients. On December 10th, 2014, the FDA approved a new HPV vaccine, Gardasil 9, which has broader cancer protection. The new vaccine protects against 90 percent HPV sub-types which cause cancer.
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