Case Comprehensive Cancer Center and Nation's Cancer Centers Jointly Endorse Updated HPV Vaccine Recommendations

Statement supports fewer vaccinations, urges action to increase national vaccination rates

Recognizing a critical need to improve national vaccination rates for the human papillomavirus (HPV), the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center has again united with each of the 69 National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer centers in issuing a joint statement in support of recently revised recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). [View full statement: HPV Consensus Statement - 2017jan11]

According to the CDC, incidence rates of HPV-associated cancers have continued to rise, with approximately 39,000 new HPV-associated cancers now diagnosed each year in the United States. Although HPV vaccines can prevent the majority of cervical, anal, oropharyngeal (middle throat) and other genital cancers, vaccination rates remain low across the U.S., with just 41.9 percent of girls and 28.1 percent of boys completing the recommend vaccine series.

“The joint statement is a significant step forward in the prevention of HPV-related cancers,” said Li Li, MD, PhD, Associate Director for Prevention Research at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Li is also Professor of Family Medicine, Mary Ann Swetland Professor of Environmental Health Sciences; Director of the Swetland Center for Environmental Health at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and a family medicine physician in the Department of Family Medicine at UH Cleveland Medical Center.

"The HPV vaccine represents a rare but excellent opportunity for cancer prevention. The efficacy of vaccine is proven. The challenge we are facing nationwide is the uptake of HPV vaccine among age-appropriate girls and boys," Dr. Li explained.

The new guidelines from the CDC recommend that children aged 11 to 12 should receive two doses of the HPV vaccine at least six months apart. Adolescents and young adults older than 15 should continue to complete the three-dose series.

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 this vaccine protects against several types of cancer.

In an effort to overcome these barriers, NCI-designated cancer centers have organized a continuing series of national summits to share new research, discuss best practices, and identify collective action toward improving vaccination rates.

The original joint statement, published in January 2016, was the major recommendation from a summit hosted at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer last November, which brought together experts from the NCI, CDC, American Cancer Society and more than half of the NCI-designated cancer centers. 

"We have been inspired by the White House Cancer Moonshot to work together in eliminating cancer," said Electra Paskett, PhD, Associate Director for Population Sciences at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) Cancer Control Research Program. "Improving HPV vaccination is an example of an evidence-based prevention strategy we can implement today to save thousands of lives in the future."

The updated statement is the result of discussions from the most recent summit, hosted this summer by OSUCCC – James. Nearly 150 experts from across the country gathered in Columbus to present research updates and plan future collaborative actions across NCI-designated cancer centers.

"We—primary care physicians, parents, public health section—all can help in achieving the goal of 80% uptake of the vaccine set by Healthy People 2020. In particular, education/public awareness campaign among pediatricians and primary care providers will likely to have a significant impact on the uptake of the vaccine," said Dr. Li. "Now we need concerted action from all sectors of society—health care providers, parents, public health organization, school, policy-makers—to promote HPV vaccine for cancer prevention."