Video

On Cancer: Gynecologic Surgeon Carol Brown Discusses Importance of HPV Vaccine

By Jim Stallard, MA, Writer/Editor  |  Thursday, June 20, 2013

Federal health officials say that a vaccine has caused a sharp decline among teenage girls in the prevalence of human papillomavirus (HPV), the main cause of cervical cancer. A new study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shows that the infection rate decreased by 56 percent since the HPV vaccine was introduced in 2006.

In a video interview, Memorial Sloan Kettering gynecologic cancer surgeon Carol L. Brown said these results represent a major advance in the prevention of cervical cancer. She also discussed the findings on CBS This Morning.

“It’s a huge, huge breakthrough — it’s the first evidence that we have that using the HPV vaccine in teenage girls in the United States is really effective,” she said.

More than 70 percent of cervical cancer cases are caused by one of the HPV viruses that the vaccine addresses. HPV also causes some other types of cancer, and vaccination is recommended for both teenage girls and boys.

Dr. Brown has played a leading role in efforts to increase awareness of the link between HPV and cervical cancer and the importance of increasing the vaccination rate. She was not involved in the recent study, which is reported in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

“This study is so important because it’s evidence for all those parents out there that aren’t sure or didn’t want to give their daughters and sons a vaccine that it really works,” she said. “When you’re faced with the opportunity to give your kid a shot that’s going to prevent them from getting cancer or prevent them from basically giving cancer to someone else — why wouldn’t you do it? It’s safe and it’s very, very effective, and this study proves that.”

Despite the apparent effectiveness of the HPV vaccine, only about 30 percent of teenage girls in the United States have received the vaccination. Other countries, such as Denmark and Britain, have vaccination rates of more than 80 percent.

Dr. Brown explained that each year approximately 12,000 women in the United States develop cervical cancer, and about 4,000 of them will die from the disease. According to the CDC, the low vaccination rate in the United States represents 50,000 “preventable tragedies,” meaning that 50,000 girls alive today will develop cervical cancer during the course of their lifetime that would have been prevented if the vaccination rate were 80 percent.

“If we could increase it to 80 percent we would be able to save 50,000 lives in this coming generation to not die from cervical cancer, so it’s hugely important,” Dr. Brown said. 

Comments

Sure sure
Look at results from Australia.
They announced many times ago about vaccination in Australlia
Remember that probably 2time injection can be enough for countries which are not rich.
I agree with Dr Brown
H. Azhar MD
Prof. Of OBG/YN

I read all the new research that is published at MMSK. I am a cancer survivor
And have a huge interest in reaserch. I read that vaccinating teens who have compensated immune system may cause problems. My non biological daugther, 14 , has all pre- Lipus immune response, what will happened with HPv vaccine???

Dvora, thank you for your comment. We asked Dr. Brown about your concern and she replied:

Yes the HPV vaccine can be given safely to immunocompromised people such as a 14 year old with Lupus. The vaccine is recommended by the CDC for anyone whose immune system is compromised either by disease like HIV or Lupus or by a treatment like a kidney transplant recipient.

Can someone in their 30's receive the vaccine who has had precancerous cells removed from her cervix? Is it too late to get the virus?

Thank you for your comment. We consulted with Dr. Brown who said the vaccine is not FDA approved for people over the age of 26, but recomends that you discuss with your gynecologist whether getting the vaccine in your situation would be helpful.

Is this vaccine for girls and boys or just for girls? Do you recommend boys in their teens get this treatment?

William, thank you for your comment. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that in addition to girls and boys aged 11 or 12 years, HPV vaccines are also recommended for teen boys and girls who did not get the vaccine when they were younger, teen girls and young women through age 26, as well as teen boys and young men through age 21.

You can learn more information about the vaccine at:

http://www.cdc.gov/hpv/vaccine.html

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