In 2015, about 12,900 new cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed, according to the American Cancer Society. And about 4,100 women will die from their cervical cancer this year.
But you can help save your daughters from this fate by making sure they get the HPV vaccine.
HPV and Cancer
HPV, or human papillomavirus, is the most common sexually transmitted infection, and it causes many health problems. In fact, nearly all sexually active adults will get it at some point in their lives, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
There are many different types of the virus, and while some may cause no problems and go away, others cause warts, cervical, vaginal, vulvar, penile, anal, and oral cancer in women or men.
In fact, the HPV infection causes 5% of all cancers worldwide, and 10,000 Americans die from cancers caused by HPV each year, according to The New York Times. And 14 million new cases of HPV are diagnosed in the U.S. each year.
HPV can cause cancer years or even decades after you first get HPV and can be spread to others that whole time, even when you have no symptoms. There is no way to know which people with HPV will develop cancer and other problems.
Debunking Concerns About the HPV Vaccine
The vaccine targets the kinds of HPV that most commonly cause cervical cancer. Gardasil also protects against the kind that causes warts. And just this year in March, the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and CDC approved a new version of the vaccine that protects against 9 different strains of HPV.
While the vaccine can literally prevent cancer and has been proven highly effective, its use isn’t as widespread as the virus it protects against.
Some worry about the safety of the vaccine. It is fully endorsed by the FDA and CDC, which continue to closely monitor the vaccine’s safety. And it has very mild side effects, such as:
• Arm pain or redness where the shot was given
When the side effects of HPV are cancer, these seem like a minor risk to protect your kids’ futures.
Others have worried that the vaccine will promote sexual behavior, especially unsafe behavior. But as this U.S. News article discusses, a study from early this year shows that the vaccine hasn’t influenced these behaviors in women.
Protecting Your Kids
The HPV vaccine is safe, effective, and highly recommended by your doctors. The HPV vaccine is just as important for your kids as vaccines that protect against diseases like mumps and measles.
The vaccine is a series of 3 shots recommended for girls AND boys between the ages of 11 and 12 but can be given anytime between the ages of 9 and 26. However, the earlier they get it, the more likely they are to be protected.
Talk to your doctor about giving your kids the HPV vaccine during back-to-school checkups and sports physicals this year. When cancer is on the line, protecting your kids now is always the best plan.
Health Alliance covers HPV vaccinations.