HPV and Cervical Cancer

Stick it to HPV to prevent cancer

There are approximately 12,000 new cases of HPV-associated cervical cancer diagnosed in the United States each year. Overall, the human papillomavirus (HPV) causes more than 90 percent of all cervical cancers.

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S. It can cause cancers of the genital regions in men and women, as well as cancers of the throat. 

Cervical cancer is predominantly caused by HPV, the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. Today this is a preventable illness because of the HPV vaccine. The HPV vaccine, which is given in two doses, targets nine different types of the virus, and is recommended for boys and girls age 11-12. The vaccine protects against HPV types that most commonly cause anal, cervical, head and neck, penile, vaginal and vulvar cancers. The American Cancer Society recommends the HPV vaccine to prevent cervical cancer and precancers.

HPV testing pinpoints the presence of high-risk HPV types in cervical cells. The test can detect HPV infections that cause cell abnormalities, sometimes even before the abnormalities are evident. With the HPV vaccine, routine pap tests and HPV testing, we can prevent cervical cancer and dysplasia.

The numbers

  • • About 80 million Americans are infected with HPV. 
  • • About 20 million people become newly infected each year. 
  • • About 80 percent of sexually active men and women get HPV infections at some point in their lives.

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Protecting our most valuable resource

The CDC recommends boys and girls ages 11-12 receive two doses of the FDA-approved HPV vaccine at least six months apart. (Read the CDC news release.) 

Adolescents age 13-14 are also able to receive HPV vaccination on the two-dose schedule. Teens and young adults who begin the series later, at age 15-26, will need three doses of HPV vaccine to protect against cancer-causing HPV infection. Vaccination ensures adolescents are protected before ever being exposed to the virus.

More than 80 million doses of the HPV vaccine have been given in the United States with no serious problems. The CDC has found no proof that the HPV vaccine causes harmful side effects. Read our Vaccine Fact vs. Fiction handout.

The vaccine is most beneficial when given before children come in contact with the virus. Young teens build more antibodies against the HPV vaccine and are less likely to already have HPV. Vaccinating your child against HPV helps protect them from possible infection in later years that can lead to:

  • • Cancers of the mouth and throat
  • • Cancer of the cervix, anus and penis
  • • Genital warts



FAQ

Frequently asked questions about the HPV vaccine

Who should receive the HPV vaccine? 
A

The CDC recommends boys and girls age 11-12 receive two doses of the FDA-approved HPV vaccine at least six months apart. 

Teens and young adults who begin the series later, at age 15-26, will still need three doses of HPV vaccine to protect against cancer-causing HPV infection. The American Cancer Society and CDC recommend the HPV vaccine to prevent cancer that can result from an HPV infection.


Q Why do children need the HPV vaccine? They are not sexually active.
A

Children should receive the vaccine prior to being exposed to HPV for the vaccine to be most effective. Young teens build more antibodies against the HPV vaccine and are less likely to already have HPV. Vaccinating your child against HPV helps protect them.


Q Why do children need a series of shots?
A

The series of shots ensures greater protection. If your child gets the HPV vaccine he or she will make proteins, called antibodies, that fight the virus. Antibodies give strong and long-lasting protection.


Q Is the HPV vaccine safe?
A

Years of studying people who have had the HPV vaccine show that it is safe. The HPV vaccine may cause temporary dizziness or nausea when it is injected, but it rarely causes harmful side effects. More than 80 million doses of the HPV vaccine have been given in the United States with no serious problems.


Talk to your family doctor about which HPV vaccine is right for your child.




Learn more about HPV