Researcher have given parents another reason to get their children vaccinated against Human papillomavirus (HPV). A team of scientists from the U.S. and Europe are reporting that the HPV vaccine may be effective in reducing the incidence of oropharyngeal carcinoma — which are cancers at the base of the tongue and tonsils that are commonly associated with high risk HPV infection.
Published in the Oct. 28, 2015, online edition of Oral Oncology, the team says two available prophylactic HPV vaccines have demonstrated high efficacy in preventing anogenital HPV infection and consequent development of anal and cervical pre-cancers. However, due to a long latency period, the impact of vaccination on actual HPV-related cancer rates will not be determined for many years; it may take several decades after an HPV infection for cancer to develop.
Nevertheless, the researchers find their evidence encouraging.
According to the CDC, an estimated 33,200 HPV-associated cancers occur in the U.S. each year — the majority among women.
Cervical cancer is the most common HPV-associated cancer among women, and oropharyngeal cancers are the most common among men. In general, HPV is thought to be responsible for more than 90% of anal and cervical cancers, about 70% of cancers of the oropharynx as well as vaginal and vulvar cancers.
The CDC recommends that all children, boys and girls, who are 11 or 12 years old should get the three dose series of HPV vaccine. Young women can get HPV vaccine through age 26, and young men can get vaccinated through age 21. If you have any questions about the vaccine, THE SCIENCE OF SMILES recommends that speak with your child’s primary care physician.