Preventing HPV-related cancers: A community seminar at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital
About 80 percent of men and women are exposed to human papillomavirus (HPV) at some point in their lifetime, which can lead to serious health problems. Although the body usually clears those transient HPV infections on its own, screenings and early detection are vitally important.
Few cancers can be prevented with a vaccine, but cervical cancer is one that can be prevented. That’s because the vast majority of cervical cancer cases — diagnosed in nearly 13,000 women in the United States each year — are caused by HPV.
There are multiple strains of HPV, most of which can be sexually transmitted, resulting in nearly all new cases of cervical cancer and many incidences of vulvar and vaginal cancers, anal, penile and head and neck cancers, according to Tarrik Zaid, M.D., board-certified gynecologic oncologist at Houston Methodist Gynecologic Oncology Associates.
Fortunately, HPV vaccines are available in the United States and can decrease the chances of contracting the most common types of the HPV virus that cause cancer, he said. Along with regular Pap tests to detect any abnormal cells on the cervix, this proactive approach is a woman’s best shot for avoiding cervical cancer, the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women.
“Cervical cancer caused by high-risk HPV is one of the most preventable cancers,” Zaid said. “But finding the disease early with Pap tests can lead to more treatment options and significantly decreased deaths.”
More than a decade ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first of three HPV vaccines that, delivered through a series of shots, can help prevent HPV-related cancers. Current guidelines recommend vaccination starting at the age of 11 or 12 years for both genders.
“About 14 million new cases of HPV occur in the U.S. each year,” according to Julie A. Boom, M.D., director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Immunization Project and director of Infant and Childhood Immunization for the Center for Vaccine Awareness and Research. “With more young people being vaccinated now, we hope to see the prevalence of HPV drop significantly.”
Current cervical cancer screening guidelines recommend Pap tests for women ages 21 and older. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, women should be screened every three years between ages 21 and 29 with a Pap test and every five years between ages 30 and 65 with a Pap and HPV test.
FREE HPV SEMINAR | Sept. 19
Join Tarrik Zaid, M.D., board-certified gynecologic oncologist at Houston Methodist Gynecologic Associates and Julie A. Boom, M.D., director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Immunization Project, as they discuss HPV, cervical cancer, screening and prevention at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19 in the Brazos Pavilion Conference Center. Registration is required. To register or find out more information, go to events.houstonmethodist.org/hpv-sl or call 281.274.7500.