HPV Vaccination is Cancer Prevention

Mother talking with teenage daughter.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

HPV is a common virus that can cause six types of cancer, and the vaccine can prevent up to 90% of those cancers. The first step to eliminating HPV-related cancers is to prevent the risk of contracting HPV. Vaccination against the HPV virus is recommended for all children ages 9-14, regardless of gender, with catch-up until age 26.

All National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers endorse this statement, as do other national and international scientists and organizations.

How does HPV cause cancer?

When the body’s immune system can’t get rid of a high-risk HPV infection in the cells of the cervix, oropharynx, vulva, vagina, penis, or anus, it can linger over time and cause changes in those cells. These altered cells then have the potential to develop into cancer if they are left untreated. An average of 42,700 people in the United States are diagnosed with an HPV-related cancer each year.  

What types of cancer are caused by HPV?

High risk strains of HPV are known to cause the following 6 different types of cancer:

Oropharyngeal cancer now exceeds the rate of cervical cancer in the U.S. and is the most common HPV-related cancer in men.

Are men affected by HPV?

Yes, both men and women can carry and transmit HPV. In addition to cervical cancer, HPV infections can increase risk for oropharyngeal and penile cancer. 

How can I reduce the risk of HPV-related cancer?

  • Begin the 2-dose vaccination schedule with boys and girls ages 9-14.
  • If a boy or girl starts the HPV vaccination schedule after age 15, they must receive 3 doses of the vaccine.
  • The vaccine is approved for use in ages 9-45 (talk to your doctor if you are over the age of 26).
  • People with a cervix, aged 21 and older should be screened for the HPV virus with a pap test every three years until age 30.
  • For those with a cervix after the age of 30 who has normal results, Pap and HPV testing should be done every 5 years.
  • Patients with abnormal results may need more frequent testing (talk to your doctor about this).

April is Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness month

The Oregon HPV Prevention Alliance and HPV Dental Task Force have put together a toolkit of resources in English and Spanish language for dental providers, patients and parents that is available for download below.

Oregon HPV Prevention Alliance Dental Provider toolkit

If you would like high resolution versions of the posters or flyers please contact us at knighthealthedu@ohsu.edu.