Doctors estimate more than 80 percent of the population is living with the human papilloma virus, also known as HPV. There are more than 100 types of the HPV virus, but certain types can cause cervical cancer and head and neck cancer.
Dr. Michelle Hoffman, an pediatric infectious disease physician with Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, says a childhood vaccine can prevent it from becoming cancer. “HPV stands for human papilloma virus. It is actually a number of viruses that can cause warts on the skin and in the genital area.”
Doctors say 90 percent of cancers caused by the HPV virus are preventable. “The reason to get this vaccine is it prevents cancer. It prevents cervical cancers. Right now HPV causes over 30,000 cancers in the United States every year,” said Dr. Hoffman.
The HPV vaccine covers nine different types of the HPV virus. Patients are encouraged to get the vaccine before they start sexual activity. Doctors say children as young as 9 years old can get the vaccine. “Often times parents ask, my child isn’t sexually active and I don’t expect them to be for quite some time, especially if you start talking about the HPV vaccine at age 9. What we tell parents is the perfect time to vaccinate someone is prior to exposure. The other part is you have a more robust immune response to the vaccine when you’re younger,” said Dr. Hoffman.
Children under 15 will get two vaccines six to 12 months apart, while patients between 15 and 26 will receive a series of three vaccines. “It’s very exciting we have a fantastic vaccine that works very, very well,” said Dr. Hoffman.
A simple childhood vaccine now may prevent cancer later.
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