Cervical cancer ranks as the fifth most common cancer in humans; it is also the second most common cancer among women around the world. According to the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK, 99% of cervical cancer cases are linked with a HPV infection. Cervical cancer has the highest number of cancer-caused deaths in developing countries. In India, it is the most frequent cancer found in women. According to the WHO, annual estimates are approximately 132,000 new cases of cancer diagnosed, and 74,000 deaths reported. This accounts to a third of the global cervical cancer fatalities.The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) consists of a group of over 200 related-viruses. HPV infections are sexually transmitted through sexual contact, skin, and the mucous membranes of infected individuals. Several cancer types are caused by HPV: cervical cancer, oropharyngeal cancer, anal cancer, as well as other rarer forms of cancers such as penile and vulvar cancer. Individuals can reduce their risk of developing HPV infections by not having multiple sexual partners, and taking the vaccination targeted for certain HPV types. Risks can also be reduced by avoiding sexual activity, very early in life, as mucosal barriers are not fully developed in pre-teens.

do pre-teens need the hpv vaccine?

The administration of the HPV vaccine to eleven and twelve year olds, brings about a never-ending controversial debate. Researchers at the University of Colorado surveyed 600 doctors; they found that 11% said they do not discuss HPV with pre-teen patients at all because they deem it inappropriate. About 54% of these doctors said, they believe the prospective patient would not be sexually active; 38% said they felt the patient would be too young; 29% said they believed the patient’s parents would reject the prospect of the vaccine. However, a large proportion of physicians demonstrate the need for pre-teen HPV vaccine administration.

“Eighty-four percent of paediatricians either strongly or always urge this vaccine,”

Dr. Lolita McDavid, MD, a paediatrician at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies, Children’s Hospital, said on news-medical.net:

“The importance of giving this vaccine in the eleven to twelve age group is they actually get a better take on the immunisation, and you want to protect teenagers before they become sexually active.”

The United States has 14 million cancer cases due to HPV on an annual basis. A third of the American population has sex before the age of 16. However, statistics demonstrate that only 38% of girls and 14% of boys, actually take all out of the 3-course HPV vaccine. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has deemed the vaccine safe and effective. It has been tested on thousands of people, across several countries.

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