UMN Expert: Masonic Cancer Center urges increased HPV vaccination and screening

Deanna Teoh

Today the National Cancer Institute, along with the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota and 69 other NCI-designated cancer centers, combined efforts to issue a statement urging for increased HPV vaccination and screening to eliminate HPV-related cancers, starting with cervical cancer. These institutions collectively recognize insufficient vaccination as a public health threat and call upon the nation’s physicians, parents and young adults to take advantage of this rare opportunity to eliminate several different types of cancer in men and women.

Nearly 80 million Americans – one out of every four people – are infected with human papillomavirus (HPV). And of those millions, more than 31,000 will be diagnosed with an HPV-related cancer this year. Despite those staggering figures and the availability of a vaccine to prevent the infections that cause these cancers, HPV vaccination remains low (less than 50 percent) in the United States.

Deanna Teoh, MD, MS, assistant professor in the Medical School and Masonic Cancer Center member, explains the importance of getting the HPV vaccine.

Deanna Teoh, MD, MS

“The HPV vaccination is one of the few opportunities we have to actually eradicate a class of cancers (HPV-related cancers), and it is devastating that the American population is not taking advantage of this opportunity even though it has been proven to be safe in multiple post-marketing studies. Rates of vaccination are especially disappointing for males, who are at risk for HPV-related oropharyngeal (head and neck) cancers as well as other cancers (anal cancers and penile cancers). HPV-related oropharyngeal cancers are increasing in incidence and expected to surpass the incidence of cervical cancer in the near future.

“Multiple studies have shown that healthcare provider recommendation for the HPV vaccine is the strongest motivator for young adults to receive the vaccine, yet many providers are still not making this strong recommendation. The HPV vaccine needs to be considered as important as other adolescent vaccines such as TDap and meningococcal.”

Deanna Teoh, MD, MS, is an assistant professor and gynecologic oncologist in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health (OBGYN) in the Medical School and Masonic Cancer Center member.

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Deanna Teoh

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