Immunizing Adolescents to Prevent Cancers
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common virus that can lead to cancer. About one in four people are currently infected with HPV in the United States and approximately 14 million people, including teens, become infected with HPV each year.1 In many cases the HPV infection goes away on its own, but when it does not the HPV may cause cancer in some people.
- HPV is known to cause cancers in the following locations: cervix, vagina, vulva, penis, anus, rectum and oropharynx (back of the throat including the base of the tongue and tonsils).
- Approximately 31,500 new cases of cancer in the U.S. each year are caused by HPV. Of these cancers, about 19,400 were among women and 12,100 among men.2
- Current HPV vaccines prevent over 90% of all HPV-related cancers from happening.3
MaineHealth pediatric and family medicine practices have substantially increased their up-to-date rates for HPV vaccine.
- As of November 2017, 43% of adolescents cared for at these 37 practices were up-to-date on the full HPV vaccine series (2 or 3 doses) by their thirteenth birthday. Just one year earlier, only 30% of adolescents were up-to-date.
- Among the highest performing practices, Western Maine Health achieved a 51% up-to-date rate and Maine Medical Partners fully immunized 48% of 13-year-olds.
- In October 2017, Maine Medical Partners received the HPV Vaccine Is Cancer Prevention Champion Award for having the highest HPV vaccination rates in Region I, which includes New England and the state of New York. This award is given by the U.S. CDC, American Cancer Society and the Association of American Cancer Institutes.
While there is still room for improvement, Maine’s state HPV up-to-date rate is one of the highest in the country. Based on the National Immunization Survey data, Maine’s up-to-date rate of 56% was significantly higher than rates in 26 states, and only significantly lower than the estimated rate for Rhode Island (71%), which mandates HPV vaccination for school entry into seventh grade.4