NCI-Designated Cancer Centers Endorse Goal of Eliminating HPV-Related Cancers

The 70 National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer centers underscored the importance of increased HPV vaccination and evidence-based screening, with the goal of eliminating cancers caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).

Recognizing the prevalence of cancers caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) as a significant public health problem, the nation’s top cancer centers have endorsed the goal of eliminating HPV-related cancers.

The joint statement from the 70 National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer centers underscores the importance of increased HPV vaccination and evidence-based screening, with the goal of eliminating cancers caused by the virus. Completion of the recommended 3 doses of the cancer-preventing HPV vaccine remain low across the nation. According to the CDC, 49.5% of girls and 37.5% of boys, ages 13-17, completed the series in 2016.

“All 70 cancer centers, representing the nation’s leaders in cancer care and research, perceive low vaccination rates as a public health threat and call upon physicians, patients, and young adults to take advantage of this opportunity to prevent several types of cancer in men and women,” states a press release from MD Anderson Cancer Center.

In particular, people living with HIV are at an increased risk of developing cancers caused by HPV due to a weakened immune system and a decreased ability to fight viral infections. With the increased risk of cervical cancer—often caused by HPV—among women with HIV, it is recommended they be screened regularly for the disease. The CDC also recommends HPV vaccination for both women and men with HIV infection up to age 26.

In alignment with the Healthy People 2020 Initiative, the statement called for:

  • Vaccination of more than 80% of males and females ages 13-15 by 2020
  • Screening of 93% of age-eligible females for cervical cancer by 2020
  • Prompt followup and proper treatment of females who screen positive for high-grade cervical pre-cancerous lesions

They also recommend that men and women up to age 26 complete the recommended vaccine series; healthcare providers make clear and strong recommendations for HPV vaccination and cervical screening; and healthcare community members educate parents, guardians, community members, and colleagues about the goal of eliminating HPV-related cancers.

The statement estimates that increased rates of vaccination and evidence-based cancer screening can prevent 12,000 cervical cancers and nearly 40,000 other HPV-related cancers. “Increased HPV vaccination rates combined with appropriate cervical cancer screening measures could soon eliminate cervical cancer, with other HPV-related cancers in males and females to follow,” reads the statement.

In addition to the 70 cancer centers, the American Cancer Society, the American Association for Cancer Research, the American Society for Clinical Oncology, the Prevent Cancer Foundation, the American Society for Preventive Oncology, and the Association of American Cancer Institutes endorsed the statement.

This is the third national call to action from the NCI-designated cancer centers, with the fisrt statement published in 2016.