ASCO Policy Statement Supporting HPV Vaccination
Hello. I'm Dr Maurie Markman from Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Philadelphia. I wanted to briefly comment on an extremely important policy statement from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)
, published ahead of print on April 11, 2016. It's entitled "The American Society of Clinical Oncology Statement: Human Papillomavirus Vaccination for Cancer Prevention." ASCO has appropriately gone on record as saying how important vaccination for human papillomavirus (HPV) is. It is noted that there are more than 500,000 cases of cervical cancer worldwide, and it's estimated that more than 70% of cervical cancer diagnoses could be prevented with the current vaccine. Future vaccines may be able to prevent more cases of cervix cancer worldwide.
In addition to cervix cancer, it is clear that HPV is a major cause of anal cancer, vaginal cancer, and vulvar cancers, and increasingly of oropharyngeal cancer. In fact, estimates are that as much as 60% of oropharyngeal cancer is due to HPV, with 90% of cases due to HPV 16. The impact of vaccination in the future is going to be substantially affected by a successful vaccination strategy.
Therefore, the evidence to date from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for example, suggests that fewer than 40% of young individuals in our society who are eligible candidates are being vaccinated. Obviously, there is a variety of reasons for this, including the fact that we are talking about vaccination of a sexually transmitted disease, HPV infection. That's very difficult for parents to wrap their heads around.
The key point is that this is an incredibly effective cancer prevention strategy. Once HPV has become incorporated into the genome of the cervix, the lining of the anus, or the oropharyngeal area, we do not have any evidence that it can be eliminated, at least permanently; that individual will carry it for the rest of his or her life on the basis of what we know today.
Therefore, vaccination, a very simple and highly effective strategy, is the way to go. I would encourage all of you to read the statement from ASCO, and to the extent that oncologists can be involved in their communities and with the doctors they're working with—gynecologists, primary care physicians, and family physicians—to encourage them to encourage families to vaccinate their young patients. Outside the realm of healthcare, oncologists can also influence individuals through churches and other organizations about the importance of HPV vaccination. The importance of this cannot be overstated for the future health and welfare of members of our society.