Dentists back calls for HPV vaccination programme expansion
Research conducted by HPV Action has revealed that the overwhelming majority of dentists support calls for the HPV vaccine to be made available to teenage boys, as well as girls.
According to the charity, 97 percent of dentists polled backed plans to expand the vaccination programme to include 12 and 13-year-old boys. At the moment, HPV vaccines are available to teenage girls. This is due to the link between certain strains of HPV and cervical cancer. There is now a growing body of evidence to suggest an association between the virus and oral cancer, a form of cancer, which has become increasingly common in the last decade.
Dean of the Faculty of General Dental Practice, Mick Horton, said that the number of cases of oral cancer diagnosed is the UK has risen “dramatically” in the last ten years, and two-thirds of cases involve men. Introducing the HPV vaccine could help to reduce the risk of oral cancer in young males. There are also plans to launch a pilot scheme for gay men.
The vaccination programme has contributed to a reduction in the prevalence of HPV in young women, and experts are keen to trial the vaccine to determine if it could reduce the number of cases of HPV-related cancers in young males. Currently, figures suggest that over 2,000 men are diagnosed with cancers related to HPV every year and almost 50 percent of patients will die from the disease within five years.
Dentists support calls made by doctors and campaigners to expand the programme and believe that providing the vaccine for boys could help to save numerous lives in the future