HPV Vaccinations Benefit Boys, Too

Gardasil HPV vaccine approved for Scotland’s boys to reduce head and neck cancers

young man playing the bag pipes in the highlands

A new study indicates that some of the benefits already realized in the reduction in cervical cancer could be replicated in relation to Oropharyngeal cancer (OPC) in men. 

Over the last decade, schoolgirls across the United Kingdom (UK) have routinely received the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.   

The uptake of the HPV vaccine in eligible girls' in Scotland was about 83 percent, according to the December 2018 report.   

A report in April 2019 said a vaccine for girls had nearly wiped out cases of cervical pre-cancer since an immunization program was introduced 10 years ago. 

This June 2019 study of school-aged boys says the Gardasil HPV vaccine should be able to reduce the number of head and neck cancer cases among men. 

Study co-author Dr. Kevin Pollock, of Glasgow Caledonian University, said in a news article, “Our latest data shows that 78 percent of people with head and neck cancers were men and that HPV was present in 60 percent of the cancers.” 

“This means the HPV vaccine may reduce some of these Oropharyngeal cancers in Scotland.” 

Oropharyngeal cancer is increasing on a global scale, including the component driven by high-risk, human papillomavirus (HR-HPV). According to previous research, the prevalence of HPV-associated OPC is high in Scotland. 

Dr. Pollock said, “Extending the HPV vaccination to boys could help reduce rates of head and neck cancer which has been increasing over the last 25 years, particularly among men.” 

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In 1994, there were 100 OPC cases in Scotland. But by 2015, there were 350 confirmed cases. 

In April 2019, the UK Department of Health (DOH) announced ‘boys ages 12-13 in Northern Ireland are to be offered the HPV vaccine.’ This decision was based on advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. 

But, this cancer-prevention vaccination program for boys will not launch until September 2019.

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Commenting on the HPV vaccination program announcement, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael McBride said in a statement, “We can now look forward to a future where we can be even more confident that we will reduce cervical cancer and other HPV related cancers that affect both men and women.”

“This is an effective vaccine against a particularly harmful virus.”   

“I would encourage all parents to take up this offer and ensure their boys and girls are vaccinated.”