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HPV Vaccine: Guidelines Offer Advice for Increasing Use

The human papillomavirus, or HPV for short, has long been linked to such cancers as oral and cervical. A relatively new vaccination against this common virus is hoped to have a dramatic impact in the war against cancer by providing a way to prevent HPV-related tumors from forming. Doctors, however, are finding that many patients are taking a pass on this preventative measure that can quite literally save their lives. To address noncompliance head on, the American Society for Clinical Oncology recently developed recommendations to help healthcare providers increase the rate of patients that take the vaccine.

Perhaps one of the biggest obstacles standing in the way of compliance is a relative lack of information about the HPV virus and its potential to do harm, the society suggests. This virus has multiple strains, many of which are transmitted through sexual contact. HPV is one of the main contributors to cervical cancer in women and has been found to be at the root of some oral and throat cancers. The vaccine has been proven effective in fighting the virus strains connected to cancers.

The HPV vaccine is considered important for both young girls and boys to take. Protection is provided when a series of two shots is given, generally around the age of 11 or 12. While the ideal time to obtain the vaccination series is prior to becoming sexually active, clinicians say it remains helpful for even those in their early 20s. The vaccine protects both boys and girls from developing HPV-related cancers by stopping the virus in its tracks.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates about 9 out of 10 people will contract an HPV infection at some point during their lives. While the virus does not always lead to cancer, it is strongly recommended to prevent potentially life-limiting complications from arising. To find out more about safeguarding against HPV, people should talk to their healthcare providers. Parents are also urged to strongly consider getting their children vaccinated against HPV.



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