Protect Your Daughters from Cervical Cancer
HPV vaccination can protect your children from several types of cancers. For girls, this includes cervical cancer. For boys, HPV vaccination means stopping the spread of the virus, which results in the reduction of cervical and other HPV-related cancers.
Every year in the United States, 31,500 women and men are diagnosed with a cancer caused by HPV infection and more than 4,000 women die from cervical cancer, even with screening and treatment. Any woman can get cervical cancer, at any point in their lives. Cervical cancer doesn’t discriminate for age or how healthy a woman’s lifestyle may be. Cervical cancer, along with most other HPV-related cancers, can be prevented by receiving the HPV vaccine.
Vaccinating for HPV also protects women against the uncomfortable process of dealing with cervical “precancers.” Each year in the U.S. nearly 500,000 women endure invasive testing and treatment for lesions (changes in the cells) on the cervix that can develop into cancers. Procedures to eliminate these precancers are necessary to prevent cancer, but can have lasting effects on a woman.
Cervical cancer is a serious disease that affects women, but it only accounts for 38% of cancers caused by HPV infection. While there is screening for cervical cancer, there is no routine screening for the other 20,000 cases of cancer caused by HPV infections each year in the United States. Often these cancers—such as cancers of the back of the throat (oropharynx) and cancers of the anus—aren’t detected until later stages when they are difficult to treat, and affect both men and women.
How can I help protect my children?
Get your kids two shots of HPV vaccine at least 6 months apart at ages 11 or 12, finishing the two-shot series before their 13th birthday. Teens and young adults through age 26 who have not received the HPV shots should ask their doctor or nurse about getting them now—it’s not too late!
Teens and young adults who did not start the HPV vaccine series before they turned 15 will need three shots within six months for the best protection. Adolescents and young adults with a weakened immune system will also need three shots. Make an appointment today to get your child vaccinated.
If it has been a long time since your child got the first or second dose of HPV vaccine, you don’t have to start over—just get the remaining shot(s) as soon as possible.
Like all medical products, vaccines can cause side effects. The most common side effects of HPV vaccines are mild and go away on their own, such as pain and redness in the arm where the shot was given. Occasionally, patients might faint after receiving an injectable vaccine, or any shot. Preteens and teens should sit or lie down when they get a shot and remain there for about 15 minutes after the shot. This can help prevent fainting and any injury that could happen while fainting.
The cancer prevention benefits of HPV vaccination far outweigh the risk of these side effects.