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For Immediate Release January 11, 2017

Joint Statement Supports Fewer Vaccinations, Urges Action to Increase National Vaccination Rates

Baltimore, Md. ― Recognizing a critical need to improve national vaccination rates for the human papillomavirus (HPV), the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center has joined with other National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer centers to support recently revised recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

All 69 NCI-designated cancer centers endorsed a joint statement in support of the recommendations. In January 2016, the cancer centers united to issue another joint statement supporting HPV vaccination to prevent cancer.  

Approximately 79 million people in the United States are infected with HPV, according to the CDC. Several types of high-risk HPV are responsible for many of the cervical, anal, oropharyngeal (middle throat) and other genital cancers affecting men and women.

“We strongly encourage all adolescents to take advantage of this safe and effective vaccine,” says Kevin J. Cullen, MD, the Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Distinguished Professor of Oncology at  the University of Maryland School of Medicine and director of the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center (UMGCCC). “In my own practice, I treat many people with HPV-induced cancers of the head and neck. They suffer greatly with chemotherapy, radiation and surgery to overcome these cancers which can be entirely prevented in the future if we vaccinate adolescents now.”

According to the CDC, incidence rates of HPV-associated cancers have continued to rise, with approximately 39,000 new HPV-associated cancers now diagnosed each year in the United States.

Although HPV vaccines can prevent the majority of cervical, anal, oropharyngeal and other genital cancers, vaccination rates remain low across the U.S., with just 41.9 percent of girls and 28.1 percent of boys completing the recommend vaccine series.  

The new guidelines from the CDC recommend that children aged 11 to 12 should receive two doses of the HPV vaccine at least six months apart. Adolescents and young adults older than 15 should continue to complete the three-dose series.

Research shows there are a number of barriers to overcome to improve vaccination rates, including a lack of strong recommendations from physicians and parents not understanding that this vaccine protects against several types of cancer.

In an effort to overcome these barriers, NCI-designated cancer centers have organized a continuing series of national summits to share new research, discuss best practices and identify collective action toward improving vaccination rates.

The original joint statement, published in January 2016, was the major recommendation from a summit hosted at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in November 2015, which brought together experts from the NCI, CDC, American Cancer Society and more than half of the NCI-designated cancer centers. 

“We have been inspired by the White House Cancer Moonshot to work together in eliminating cancer,” said Electra Paskett, Ph.D., Associate Director for Population Sciences at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) Cancer Control Research Program. “Improving HPV vaccination is an example of an evidence-based prevention strategy we can implement today to save thousands of lives in the future.”

The updated statement is the result of discussions from the most recent summit, hosted this summer by OSUCCC – James. Nearly 150 experts from across the country gathered in Columbus to present research updates and plan future collaborative actions across NCI-designated cancer centers.

About the University of Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center

The University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center is a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in Baltimore. The center is a joint entity of the University of Maryland Medical Center and University of Maryland School of Medicine. It offers a multidisciplinary approach to treating all types of cancer and has an active cancer research program. It is ranked in the top 25 cancer programs in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.