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HPV and Related Cancers Outreach Program

  • Dana-Farber's HPV and Related Cancers Outreach Program is a cancer prevention program that provides education and vaccination in our community. Six types of cancer in men and women are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). The virus has over 100 different types (strains), some of which are high-risk, or have the potential to cause cancer. The high-risk strains of HPV can lead to cancer in men and women – including cervical, head and neck, anal, penile, vaginal, and vulvar cancers.

    In the past 20 years, HPV-related cancers have increased by 225 percent, with a rapid rise in head and neck cancers in men. In fact, there are now more men with oropharyngeal cancer than women with cervical cancer. Fortunately, HPV-related cancers can be prevented with vaccination, screening, and early detection.

    Along with all 700 National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer centers, Dana-Farber is committed to the shared goal of eliminating HPV-related cancers. Because the vaccine prevents HPV infections that could cause cancer, the six related cancers could eventually be eliminated if most people are vaccinated. Our public health-oriented program targets specific, nationwide health goals set by the federal government's Healthy People 2020 program and the NCI. The shared goals are:

    • Educate parents, guardians, health care providers, and community members about the goal to eliminate HPV-related cancers
    • Increase vaccination rates to 80 percent for males and females (ages 9-26)
    • Endorse clear and strong cancer-prevention recommendations for vaccination and cancer screening

    The vaccine is recommended for both boys and girls at 11 or 12 years old, but can be given between the ages of 9 and 26. The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Physicians, and the CDC recommend Tdap, meningococcal, flu and HPV vaccine for all children 7 or older. View the complete vaccine schedule.

    Education

    The outreach program is designed to address common barriers to vaccination including medically accurate and culturally appropriate information and access to health resources. Our curriculum has been proven to increase medically accurate knowledge of HPV and related cancers, intention to be fully vaccinated, and comfort level discussing the topic with others. The curriculum is delivered as a workshop and is tailored to be culturally appropriate for the audience, including: young adults, parents and guardians, community health and education professionals, and medical and dental professionals. Over 2,000 people have been educated through workshops with the city of Boston and the Boston Public Health Commission, Boston Public Schools, youth-serving organizations, Area Health Education Centers organizations, and faith-based and other community-based organizations. Health care professionals have been educated at national conferences and regional events.

    Vaccination

    Despite having higher HPV vaccination rates than the national average, Massachusetts lags far behind the Healthy People 2020 goal of 80 percent coverage (see the CDC's Vaccination Coverage Report for the most up-to-date information). Depending on age, either two or three doses are needed for full vaccination. For children ages 9-14, only two doses are needed, and for anyone 15-26, three doses are needed. Barriers to completing HPV vaccination include lack of knowledge about HPV and related cancers; lack of knowledge about the vaccine; the inconvenience of needing three doses; and the cost of the vaccine.

    To remove as many of these barriers as possible, the Community Benefits Office partnered with the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) and Boston Public Schools in 2015 to provide the HPV vaccine through a mobile clinic aboard the Blum Family Resource Van. For more information about the development process, implementation, outreach methods and instruments, program evaluation, capacity-building, and sustainability, contact Sarah Gunn, our HPV outreach program manager.

    Additional Resources

    Team Maureen: Joining Together to End Cervical Cancer

    NCI-Designated Cancer Centers Endorse Goal of Eliminating HPV-Related Cancers

    What is the link between cervical cancer and HPV? (video and FAQ with Dana-Farber specialists Larissa Lee, MD, Alexi Wright, MD, MPH, and Ursula Matulonis, MD)

    CDC 2008-2016 Adolescent Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccination Coverage Trend Report

    FAQ for parents and teens, vaccine reminders, and more from Team Maureen (Team Maureen Scientific Advisor: Ursula Matulonis, MD, Dana-Farber's Gynecologic Oncology Program at the Susan F. Smith Center for Women's Cancers)

    CDC Vaccine Information Statement

    NCI-designated centers urge HPV vaccination (collective statement of 68+ NCI-designated centers)

    Boston Public Health Commission partners with school health centers to offer vaccine, promote cancer prevention (public statement)

    Number of HPV-Associated Cancers Annually

  • Contact Us

    For more information, contact our HPV Outreach Program Manager:

    Sarah Gunn, MS
    Senior Community Outreach Specialist, Community Benefits
    sarah_gunn@dfci.harvard.edu

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    Dana-Farber in the Community

    Dana-Farber is dedicated to meeting the health needs of high-risk and medically underserved populations in our communities.