A shot at preventing cancer

A shot at preventing cancer

It’s the most common sexually transmitted infection and impacts more than 14 million new people every year in the U.S. – the human papillomavirus (HPV). There are more than 120 types of HPV, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the vaccine can prevent 90% of HPV-causing cancers.

HPV spreads through sexual activity. Some people don’t display any symptoms of infection.

“The vaccine is so important because not only can it prevent genital warts, but also cancers caused by HPV,” explains Dr. Elizabeth Dickson Michelson, a gynecologic oncologist at Aurora BayCare Medical Center. “These cancers caused by HPV can be prevented by receiving the HPV vaccine. We could decrease the number of cervical, anal, and some throat cancers substantially if we lessen some of the HPV cases out there.”

Dr. Dickson Michelson says if vaccinated between the ages of 9–14, you need a series of two shots. It jumps to a series of three between the ages of 15–26. The vaccine series is recommended regardless of sexual activity, HPV exposure, or sexual orientation.

If you haven’t received the HPV vaccine and test positive for an HPV infection, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends you still receive the vaccine through the age of 45 years old. If you are over 45, you can still get the vaccine, but some insurance policies may not cover it.

“The vaccine helps boost your immune system to fight the HPV infection,” explains Dr. Dickson Michelson.

She recommends talking to your doctor if you have any questions about the vaccine to make sure it’s right for you.

Are you trying to find a doctor? Find one in Illinois or Wisconsin. 

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.