Young men not being offered HPV vaccination, leading to larger risk of cancer: Study says
Nearly a decade after it was approved for boys, a new study shows many young men aren’t being offered the HPV vaccine. Health officials say that could be putting both boys and girls at higher risk for cancer.
“The vaccines came out at cervical cancer vaccines and if you do not have a cervix that seems less attractive to you,” said the director of pediatric infectious diseases at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital Doctor Chris Belcher.
The HPV vaccine, which was originally approved and marketed for women, turns out to be just as important for men.
“This is an HPV vaccine. This is a cancer vaccine. Those are the points to make,” said Doctor Belcher.
Dr. Belcher tells us HPV can lead to mouth, throat, cervical, and anal cancers affecting both sexes.
“It is a virus that is spread from person to person by close transmission. It does not even need to be intercourse. Interrupting that transmission is very important,” said Dr. Belcher.
According to a new study which surveyed teens from 13-17, 65% of girls have started the vaccine course, compared to just 56% of boys in that same age range. The study says health care providers could be to blame.
Parents of boys who participated in the survey say their doctors never brought up the vaccine as an option. Doctor Belcher believes health care providers should broaden the conversation.
“The main points to tell parents are that we are trying to prevent cancer in your boys as well as others and we are already seeing the beneficial effects of this cancer vaccine,” said Doctor Belcher.
The National Cancer Institute says there are no serious adverse effects to the vaccination.
“If it was a breast cancer or a colon cancer vaccine, I think there would be a much better uptake. We have a cancer vaccine here that works and we should use it,” said Doctor Belcher.
According to the CDC, around 80 million Americans in their late teens to early 20s are infected with HPV. By age 50, 80% of men will have contracted HPV. Right now, there is no routine screening in males for the HPV virus but a common symptom is genital/anal warts.