According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of cancers associated with HPV (human papillomavirus) has increased in the United States. The agency estimates that each year, between 2008-2012, an average of nearly 39,000 HPV-related cancers were diagnosed. That number is higher than the CDC’s previous estimates covering 2004 to 2008, during which an estimated 33,000 were diagnosed every year.
The majority of the diagnosed cases were women—nearly 59 percent, or roughly 23,000 cases yearly—who were overwhelming diagnosed with cervical cancer. The majority of men were diagnosed with HPV-related oral cancer. Most notable about the study is that most of the new cancers tracked from 2008-2012 are related to HPV types that are covered by vaccines. The study’s authors note that increasing vaccination would (quite obviously) lead the decrease in HPV-related cancers.
Though HPV vaccination is available for both girls and boys at the age of 11, the Associated Press notes that American adolescents are far less likely to be vaccinated for HPV than other diseases. According to the CDC, only 40 percent of girls between the ages of 11-17 are fully vaccinated for HPV. Those numbers are even more depressingly low among their male counterparts; only 22 percent of boys are fully vaccinated.
The CDC emphasized that while not all HPV-related cancers are prevented by the vaccine, the vast majority of them are. The study found:
Of the 38,793 cancers that occurred each year in the United States at anatomic sites associated with HPV, approximately 30,700 can be attributed to HPV. Of these, 24,600 cancers are attributable to HPV types 16 and 18, which are included in all current HPV vaccines, and 28,500 are attributable to high-risk HPV types included in the 9-valent HPV vaccine.
Yes, that’s 28,500 annual cases that could have been prevented by three full doses of a vaccine.
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