By Atlantic Health Partners
Vaccines have played a transformational role in combating preventable diseases and shaping modern medicine. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, and cancer treatment remains at the forefront of public health efforts. With more than 1.6 million people diagnosed with cancer each year, combating this complex disease is more critical than ever. Providers can reaffirm their commitment to advancing these efforts by educating their patients on the role of vaccines in cancer prevention and treatment.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine
Currently two vaccines help prevent cancers caused by viruses. One of them is the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. Each year, an estimated 36,500 HPV-attributable cancer cases are diagnosed in the United States, with HPV linked to over 90% of anal and cervical cancers, nearly 70% of vaginal and vulvar cancers, 70% of oropharyngeal cancers and 60% of penile cancers. Though in most cases the immune system fights off HPV, when the virus lingers in the body for multiple years, it can lead to one of these forms of cancer. Patients can protect themselves from this cancer-causing virus by staying up-to-date on their HPV vaccination. Based on current CDC guidelines, the HPV vaccine is recommended as a routine vaccination at age 11 or 12 and is typically administered through two doses.
Hepatitis B (HBV) vaccine
Another preventive immunization is the hepatis B vaccine. Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a transmittable liver infection which, if left untreated, can lead to chronic illness or even liver cancer. Of the 2.4 million people chronically infected with HBV in the United States, 25% to 40% are at risk of developing liver cancer in their lifetime. The CDC recommends that the HBV vaccine be included as part of routine infant immunizations, typically administered as a series of three shots over the course of six months.
Treating cancer now and later
Beyond preventive immunizations, there are also therapeutic vaccines that are used to treat existing cancer cases. These vaccines can be used to aid remission by stopping new cancer cells from growing or existing tumors from expanding. In addition to these existing therapies, clinical research is underway on the use of emerging mRNA technology, dendritic cell vaccines, cancer-testis antigen (CTA) vaccines and recombinant viral vaccines as potential options for treating various types of cancer. These breakthroughs in vaccinology present a promising opportunity for a changing tide in the fight against cancer.
Atlantic Health Partners, the nation’s largest vaccine buying group, offers ISMA members the most favorable vaccine pricing and terms. To learn more, email Cindy or Jeff at firstname.lastname@example.org; or call 800-741-2044.