July 11 is World Population Day, a day designated by the United Nations to focus on urgent and important population issues. This year's theme is 'Investing in teenage girls.' The theme recognizes that the health and well-being of young girls has a profound impact – not only on their lives, but on that of their families, their communities and the greater world.
Here in Nevada, there is a simple, yet invaluable, way for us to invest in the health of young girls — the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. Administering this vaccine to girls, as well as boys, just makes sense— it protects against cancers caused by the human papillomavirus in both sexes. Among its benefits, the HPV vaccine prevents cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancers in women, penile cancers in men, and anal and throat cancers in both sexes. It also prevents the formation of genital warts in both women and men. And conveniently, getting protected from all of these debilitating diseases is a simple as getting a few shots.
The HPV vaccine has the potential to prevent about 38,000 HPV-related cancers each year in the U.S. Unfortunately, Nevada falls below the national average for HPV vaccination rates with only about a third of girls and 1 in 6 boys having completed the 3-dose HPV vaccine series.
Should Your Teen Get the HPV Vaccine?
Sierra Nevada Cancer Center (SNCC) encourages the families of all eligible girls and boys to get the HPV vaccine series for their children. Dr. Jorge Perez, founder of SNCC, puts it this way, “The HPV vaccine represents the best of science and medicine – a way to prevent cancer from ever developing.” He explains, “There are so many cancers we don’t understand and can only treat once they appear. This is one of our ‘miracle drugs’ because it prevents cancer before it happens, and we owe it to our children to offer them this protection.”
In honor of World Population Day, in celebration of all girls and boys, and in recognition of the power of medicine to protect and heal us, let’s hope that the HPV vaccine reaches every girl and boy who can benefit from it . Parents of pre-teen and teen aged children are strongly encouraged to check with their child’s doctor to find out if they are up-to-date on their HPV vaccines.
For those of us who did not have access to the HPV vaccine (it was only approved by the FDA in 2006) and have been diagnosed with an HPV-related or other cancer, board Certified Oncologist Dr. Jorge Perez and his team of caregivers are here to help you in your cancer battle. Appointment can be made by calling (775) 883-3366.