Skip Navigation

HPV and Related Cancers Outreach Program

  • Dana-Farber's HPV and Related Cancers Outreach Program is a cancer prevention initiative to reduce the HPV-Related Cancer burden in our community through education and vaccination.

    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 because they have the potential to cause cancer. The high-risk strains of HPV can lead to cervical, head and neck, anal, penile, vaginal, and vulvar cancers. There are 42,700 HPV-related cancers in the U.S. each year.

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

    New HPV-Related Cancers Each Year in the U.S.

    Oropharangeal Cancer (Men) 14,814
    Cervical Cancer (Women) 11,866
    Anal Cancer (Women) 4,333
    Vulvar Cancer (Women) 3,934
    Oropharangeal Cancer (Women) 3,412
    Anal Cancer (Men) 2,197
    Penile Cancer (Men) 1,269
    Vaginal Cancer (Women) 846

    Source: CDC United States Cancer Statistics Data Brief No. 4 August 2018

    Along with all 70 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 may lead to 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 45. In October 2018, the FDA approved the expanded age range for the vaccine from 9-26 to 9-45 years old, and it is expected that this will be incorporated into health insurance plans within one year of the FDA approval. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the 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 and Vaccination

    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.

    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 15-45, 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, Dana-Farber's 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

    2018 CDC Recommended Immunizations for Children 7-18 Years Old

  • 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

  • Join the Massachusetts Coalition for HPV-Related Cancer Awareness

    Dana-Farber is a founding member of the MA Coalition for HPV/HPV-Related Cancer Awareness. Join for news and information about HPV and HPV-related cancers ... for collaborative partners to implement HPV/HPV-related cancer programs ... to hear (or be) an expert in this field.

    Membership is free … there's no time obligation … and you'll help to reduce the HPV-related cancer burden.

    Learn more about the Coalition.

    Join now.

  • sabrina-gonzalez

    Dana-Farber in the Community

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