MUSC's Hollings Cancer Center Backs New HPV Vaccine Recommendations

Contact: Heather Woolwine

Jan. 18, 2017

CHARLESTON, SC Recognizing a critical need to improve national vaccination rates for the human papillomavirus (HPV), the Hollings Cancer Center (HCC) 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).

“Cancer-causing strains of HPV are the main cause of cervical cancer, and as such the HPV vaccine can prevent thousands of young women, mothers, sisters, and daughters from a cancer diagnosis, and hundreds of thousands of precancers each year,” said Jennifer Young Pierce, M.D., associate professor of gynecologic oncology and one of two female gynecologic oncologists in South Carolina. “Additionally, it can prevent HPV-related cancers in men, which are still on the rise.”

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. South Carolina currently ranks 11th in cervical cancer incidence, and 9th in cervical cancer deaths.

Updated guidelines from the CDC recommend that all children age 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.

“The development of safe and effective vaccines to prevent HPV infection is the major cancer prevention breakthrough of recent decades,” said Anthony J. Alberg, Ph.D., HCC interim director and associate director of population science. “Being able to prevent cancer in your son or daughter with a few shots is extraordinary. We need all those eligible to take advantage of this opportunity.”

Research suggests a number of barriers in the path of improve vaccination rates, including a lack of strong recommendations from health care providers to vaccinate on time and parents perhaps not understanding how the vaccine can protect children from developing cancer later in life.

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 Center in November 2015, which brought together experts from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), CDC, American Cancer Society and more than half of the NCI-designated cancer centers. The updated statement is the result of discussions from the most recent summit, hosted this summer by The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center. Nearly 150 experts from across the country gathered in Columbus to present research updates and plan future collaborative actions across NCI-designated cancer centers. HCC will host the next summit of all 69 cancer centers regarding this issue this spring.

“We have been inspired by the White House Cancer Moonshot to work together in eliminating cancer,” said Electra Paskett, Ph.D., associate director for population sciences at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center 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.”
About Hollings Cancer Center
The Hollings Cancer Center at the Medical University of South Carolina is a National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center and the largest academic-based cancer research program in South Carolina. The cancer center is comprised of more than 120 faculty-level cancer scientists with a research funding portfolio of $44 million and a dedication to reducing the cancer burden in South Carolina. Hollings offers state-of-the-art diagnostic capabilities, therapies, and surgical techniques within multidisciplinary clinics that include surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation therapists, radiologists, pathologists, psychologists, and other specialists equipped for the full range of cancer care, including more than 200 clinical trials. For more information, please visit Hollings Cancer Center.
About MUSC Health
MUSC Health is the clinical enterprise of the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) comprised of a 700-bed Medical Center, the MUSC College of Medicine and the physicians’ practice plan. It serves patients across South Carolina and beyond through four hospital facilities in Charleston and more than 100 outreach sites. Among these are the Hollings Cancer Center, a National Cancer Institute-designated center and the only one of its kind in South Carolina, and a nationally recognized children’s hospital. The Medical University was founded in 1824 and has become a premiere academic health sciences center at the forefront of the latest advances in medicine, with world-class practitioners, and scientists providing groundbreaking research, and technology that is often the first of its kind in the world. To learn more, visit MUSC Health.