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Parents, physicians urged to prevent cancer with HPV vaccine

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Meyer Cancer Center and Weill Cornell Medicine joined Columbia University Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian, and Lewis Cantley, Ph.D.Lewis Cantley, Ph.D. Meyer Director Professor of Cancer Biology in Medicine the nation's top cancer centers to call for increased human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination for the prevention of cancer.

The statement comes in response to the public health threat posed by low national vaccination rates for HPV. The centers are urging physicians, parents and young adults to take advantage of this opportunity to prevent many types of cancer.

"We are proud to be among the nation's most prestigious cancer centers in calling to eliminate HPV-related cancer," says Dr. Stephen Emerson, director of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia and the Clyde Wu Professor of Immunology and Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center. "Vaccination against HPV is an opportunity to stop many cancers before they even develop, and has the potential to save countless lives in New York City and across the country."

"Vaccination is a highly effective weapon in the fight against cancer," says Dr. Lewis Cantley, the Meyer Director of the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian."While we are constantly developing new therapies for cancer patients, vaccination can help reduce the number of cases we ever have to treat."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HPV infections are responsible for approximately 27,000 new cancer diagnoses each year in the United States. Vaccines are available that can prevent the majority of cervical, anal, oropharyngeal (middle throat) and other genital cancers.

"This initiative is directly aligned with the desire of the President, Vice President and all Americans to work constructively together to eradicate cancer," says Dr. Ernest Hawk, vice president and division head, Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. "This is one example of actions that can be taken today to make a very big difference in the future cancer burden."

Vaccination rates remain low across the United States, with less than 40 percent of girls and just over 21 percent of boys receiving the recommended three doses. Research shows there are a number of barriers to overcome to improve vaccination rates, including a lack of strong recommendations from physicians and parents not understanding that the vaccine protects against several types of cancer.

To discuss strategies for overcoming these barriers, experts from the NCI, CDC, American Cancer Society and more than half of the NCI-designated cancer centers met in a summit at MD Anderson Cancer Center last November. During this summit, cancer centers shared findings from 18 NCI-funded environmental scans, or detailed regional assessments, which sought to identify barriers to increasing immunization rates in pediatric settings across the country.

The published call to action is a major recommendation resulting from discussions at that summit, with the goal of sending a powerful message to parents, adolescents and health care providers about the importance of HPV vaccination for cancer prevention.