UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center Magazine - Spring 2016 - Page 7

clinical update Cancer Center Joins Endorsement of HPV Vaccine By BEENA THANNICK AL “There is no question that the vaccine works. We now have a secondgeneration vaccine that protects against 90 percent of the HPV that are associated with cervical cancer.” Warner Huh, M.D. UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center senior scientist and direc tor of the UAB Division of Gynecologic Oncology 10 U A B In response to low national vaccination rates against the human papillomavirus, the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center recently joined all 69 of the nation’s top cancer centers in issuing a statement urging for increased HPV vaccination for the prevention of cancer. These institutions collectively recognize insufficient vaccination as a public health threat and call on the nation’s physicians, parents and young adults to take advantage of this rare opportunity to prevent many types of cancer. National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers joined in this effort in the spirit of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union call for a national “moonshot” to cure cancer, a collaborative effort led by Vice President Joe Biden. “The National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers are at the cutting edge of cancer research, treatment and prevention, and we now have joined forces because of the compelling research that clearly shows the HPV vaccine is critical in saving lives by preventing HPV infection and its associated cancers,” says Edward Partridge, M.D., Cancer Center director. “We hope our collective action will educate and motivate the public and highlight this tremendous opportunity we have to eliminate a preventable cancer.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HPV infections are responsible for approximately 27,000 new cancer diagnoses each year in the United States. Several vaccines are available that can prevent the majority of cervical, anal, oropharyngeal (middle throat) and other genital cancers. UAB has been at the forefront of conducting groundbreaking cancer research, especially in developing the HPV vaccine. Warner Huh, M.D., director of the UAB Division of Gynecologic C O M P R E H E N S I V E C A N C E R C E N T E R WARNER HUH, M.D. Oncology and Cancer Center senior scientist, has tested several HPV vaccines and was one of the first to test Gardasil, the first U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved vaccine for the prevention of cervical cancer and genital warts. “There is no question that the vaccine works,” Dr. Huh says. “We now have a second-generation vaccine that protects against 90 percent of the HPV that are associated with cervical cancer. This vaccine can literally eradicate the majority of cervical cancer, if given widely and appropriately.” Vaccination rates, however, remain low across the United States, with less than 40 percent of girls and slightly more than 21 percent of boys receiving the recommended three doses. Research shows there are a number of barriers to overcome to improve vaccination rates, including a lack of strong recommendations from physicians and parents not understanding that this vaccine protects against several types of cancer. “We’re really on the verge of a dramatic change that will positively affect all individuals, particularly women, in the United States,” says Dr. Huh. “The real remaining issue is we need to improve vaccination rates in this country.” VACCINATE YOUR 11-12 YEAR OLDS. # K N O W U A B C C C • U A B . E D U / C A N C E R 11