June 14, 2017
A shot that prevents cancers — the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination — is
for you, too, though not nearly enough males are getting it. Sadly, physicians
say, vaccination rates in males are extremely low, and doctors are seeing more
cancers in men caused by HPV.
half of men aged 18 to 59 years (45.2 percent) have HPV infection, according to
this month’s issue of the national medical digest JAMA Oncology. Yet just one in 10 (10.7
percent) of those males eligible for the HPV shots had been vaccinated, based
on data collected through the National Health
and Nutrition Examination Survey
years, scientists have touted the HPV vaccination’s power to reduce cervical
cancer in women. Now, during Men’s Health Week, Texas physicians urge men to
get vaccinated against HPV to prevent cancers. HPV causes several cancers in
men and women, including oropharyngeal (cancers of the head and neck such as
the throat and mouth), penile, anal, cervical and vaginal. Some cases are
“HPV vaccination could change the course of health for many
men,” said David Lakey, MD, of Austin,
chair of Texas Medical Association’s (TMA’s) Council on Science and Public Health.
“The decision to get vaccinated during adolescence or even young adulthood
could mean you don’t have to suffer from an HPV-caused cancer such as throat or
genital cancer, down the road.”
than 79 million Americans are estimated to have some strain of HPV infection.
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States, yet
there is no treatment for HPV. Half of the infections are believed
to occur before people reach age 24. Usually, HPV infection goes away on its
own. But when it doesn’t, the infection may cause cancer years later.
According to the JAMA article,
more than 9,000 cases of HPV-related cancers are diagnosed each year in men. HPV
has been found to cause 63 percent of penile cancers and 91 percent of anal
cancers. Throat cancers are becoming increasingly common. Nearly 16,000
oropharyngeal cancers, found in the tonsils and base of the tongue, are
diagnosed in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC).
And nearly all genital warts (90 percent) are caused by HPV infections,
affecting some 160,000 men each year.
Physicians and other health experts recommend the HPV
vaccination for both
males and females until age 26. Ideally, adolescents receive two HPV shots for
best protection — before being exposed to HPV.
in Texas, only about one-quarter to one-third of teen males are fully
vaccinated against HPV, according to the 2015 National Immunization Survey-Teen.
teens and young adults who weren’t vaccinated in adolescence can still benefit
from HPV vaccination, said Dr. Lakey, who developed and leads TMA’s HPV Working
Group. For those over age 15, however, CDC recommends three shots for full
“If you’re a
young male and you haven’t gotten the HPV vaccination, ask your doctor about it,”
said Dr. Lakey. “It’s certainly easier and better to prevent a cancer than have
to endure potentially lengthy, uncomfortable, and costly medical procedures to
infographic and fact sheet, both in English and Spanish,
explain the importance of HPV vaccination.
TMA is the largest state
medical society in the nation, representing more than 50,000 physician and
medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 110 component county
medical societies around the state. TMA’s key objective since 1853 is to
improve the health of all Texans.
TMA actively works to improve
immunization rates in Texas through its Be Wise — ImmunizeSM
program. Be Wise works with local communities to give free and low-cost shots
to Texans, and educate people about the importance of vaccination. More than 320,000
shots have been given to Texas children, adolescents, and adults through the Be
Wise program since 2004. Be Wise — Immunize is a joint initiative led by TMA physicians, medical
students, and the TMA Alliance. It is funded by TMA Foundation thanks to major
gifts from H-E-B and TMF Health Quality Institute, along with generous
contributions from physicians and their families.
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Be Wise —
Immunize is a service mark of the Texas Medical Association.
Annear (512) 370-1381; cell: (512) 656-7320; email: brent.annear[at]texmed[dot]org
Marcus Cooper (512) 370-1382; cell: (512)
650-5336; email: marcus.cooper[at]texmed[dot]org
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