January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, which provides a chance to raise awareness about cervical cancer, and the HPV vaccine that can help prevent it, and other cancers, from ever developing. Every year in the United States, HPV causes 10,800 cases of cervical cancer. Fortunately, HPV vaccination could prevent most of these cancers.
Every year in the United States, there are nearly 300,000 cases of high-grade cervical lesions, which may require invasive testing and treatment. HPV also causes cancers of the vagina and vulva in women; cancers of the penis in men; and cancers of the anus and oropharynx (back of the throat) in men and women. In total, HPV causes 33,700 cases of cancer in men and women every year in the U.S. HPV vaccination could prevent more than 90% of these cancers, 31,200 cases every year, from developing.
While doctors routinely screen for cervical cancer, there are no recommended cancer screening tests for the other types of cancers caused by HPV infections. These cancers may not be detected until they cause health problems.
Educate parents and clinicians on the benefits of HPV vaccination
HPV is so common that nearly all men and women get it at some point in their lives. CDC resources are available to assist in the educating parents on the burden of disease associated with HPV and the benefits of vaccination.
Recommend HPV vaccine for all preteens
CDC recommends all girls and boys who are 11 or 12 years old get two doses of HPV vaccine. The vaccination series can be started at age 9 years. Your recommendation is the number one reason parents decide to get HPV vaccine for their child. Recommend HPV vaccine the same way and same day you recommend the Tdap and meningococcal conjugate vaccines.
Ensure consistent messages about HPV vaccination importance
Get your whole office or organization involved in HPV cancer prevention through communicating effectively with parents and partners about HPV vaccination and implementing systems to ensure all preteens are vaccinated.
Here are additional resources to help educate clinicians and their staff about the importance of HPV vaccination as cancer prevention and how to make effective vaccine recommendations.