March 4 is International HPV Awareness Day, which aims to promote education about HPV, raise awareness about prevention methods, and encourage governments and individuals to take advantage of the HPV vaccine and screening for cancer. ASCO is again a supporter of the important initiative.
A recent Lancet article reported that by rapidly escalating the use of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, cervical cancer could be nearly eliminated in a select number of countries within 30 years and by most other countries within 80 years. However, if cervical cancer screenings and the HPV vaccine are not utilized, more than 44 million women could be diagnosed with this disease between now and 2070.
The authors state that by ramping up vaccination to cover 80–100% of women worldwide by 2020 could result in cutting the number of cases of cervical cancer in half by 2060, with an immediate reduction of approximately 6.5 million cases within this yearlong escalation period.
ASCO strongly supports increasing the use of the HPV vaccine to reduce the risk of cancer. In April 2016, the society issued a policy statement supporting the recommendation to markedly increase the proportion of young boys and girls receiving the HPV vaccine in the United States and worldwide because research has shown that it is most effective in preventing cancer. The statement noted that 10% of new cases of cancer worldwide each year are caused by viral infections with “The bulk of these cancers and resultant deaths are attributable to a relatively small number of viruses,” including HPV, which causes an estimated 600,000 new cases of cancer per year worldwide.
Later that year, in October, ASCO issued a policy brief supporting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendation for a 2-dose series of 9vHPV to prevent HPV-related cancers. The CDC recommends all boys and girls ages 11 or 12 years old get vaccinated. Catch-up vaccines are recommended for males through age 21 and females through age 26. Further, CDC recommends the vaccine for men who have sex with men through age 26 and for men and women with compromised immune systems through age 26 if they did not get fully vaccinated at a younger age.
ASCO also recognizes that the varying levels of vaccine uptake around the world need to be raised so that all women are receiving preventative services. To this end, in March 2017, ASCO issued an evidence-based clinical practice guideline on the use of the HPV vaccine for preventing cervical cancer aimed at physicians in various resource settings around the world. To reduce the incidence of cervical cancer globally, the guideline recommends:
- Two doses of HPV vaccine for girls ages 9 to 14 years, with an interval of at least 6 months and up to 12 to 15 months between doses
- Three doses of HPV vaccine for girls who have tested positive for HIV
- Vaccinating boys if there is at least a 50% coverage in priority female target population, sufficient resources, and such vaccination is cost effective.
The recommendations were then broken down for settings with limited, basic, maximal, and enhanced resources.
Watch a video about ASCO’s recommendations for reducing the global burden of cervical cancer.
Related resources from Cancer.Net, ASCO’s patient information website: