As nurses we know that advances in cancer prevention & therapy have come a long way over time. But cancer is still the second most common cause of death in the USA, after heart disease. And, cancer treatment is no day at the beach. Patients, families, friends, and communities suffer every time cancer is diagnosed. So we should do everything we can to prevent it, right?
Despite the fact that an Estimated 92% of Cancers Caused by HPV Could be Prevented by the simple administration of the safe & effective vaccine, Gardasil 9, fewer than 51% of American teens have been immunized. And the vaccine is seldom offered to adults.
During 2012-2016, an average of 43,999 HPV-associated cancers were reported each year, according to a study published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report in August,2019. Among the estimated 34,800 cancers probably caused by HPV, 92 percent are attributable to the HPV types that are included in the HPV vaccine , according to the report.
HPV is a very common virus that can lead to certain types of cancers in men and women. It causes cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis, anus, and oropharynx. The HPV vaccine protects against the types of HPV that most commonly cause these cancers.Imagine a future without uterine cancer: totally do-able!
The US Dept of Health & Human Services has set a goal of increasing HPV vaccination coverage to 80%.(I won’t be happy until it is 100%. ) Why should anyone suffer (& die) from an easily preventable virus?
The most common cancers were cervical and oropharyngeal. Imagine all the misery that could have been prevented if those 150,000 people had received Gardasil!
So here’s the good news:
– Parents are more likely to get children immunized if a nurse recommends it.
– Gardasil can be given to anyone between the ages of 9 years and 26 years who is not allergic to yeast.
Vaccination is not generally recommended for people older than 26 years but cancer screening during a Pap smear definitely is recommended. However, some adults ages 27 through 45 years who are not vaccinated for HPV may decide to be vaccinated after speaking with their doctor about their risk for new HPV infections and the possible benefits of vaccination. HPV vaccination in this age range provides less benefit, as more people have likely been exposed to HPV. In addition to HPV vaccination, cervical cancer screening is recommended for women ages 21-65.
According to Dr. Lisa Richardson, of the CDC, “Cervical cancer was once the leading cause of cancer deaths among women in the U.S. The HPV vaccine and cervical cancer screening have made it one of the most preventable cancers. HPV vaccination is cancer prevention. We can protect our loved ones with the HPV vaccine. ”The current recommendations are: Women ages 21-29 years can be screened with a Pap test every three years. In addition, to the Pap test, a test called the HPV test looks for HPV infection. Among women ages 30 to 65 years there are three strategies: (1) Pap test alone every three years, (2) the HPV test used with the Pap test every five years, or (3) the HPV test alone every five years. The HPV test can provide additional information when Pap test results are unclear for women ages 21 and older.
This is something we can change, by recommending good choices for our patients, families, staff, and communities. People listen to nurses because we are the most trusted profession.
Mahalo for All You Do!
For more information, visit https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/cervical/