MUSC Hollings Cancer Center Hosts “Vax-A-Nation,” Fourth Installment of National HPV Conference

NCI-designated Cancer Centers continue joint effort to increase rates of HPV vaccination in U.S.

Charleston, S.C. (May 22, 2017) – The Hollings Cancer Center at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) served as hosts to the 4th National Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Conference, “Vax-A-Nation,” in Charleston, SC on May 11-12. The conference was attended by leading HPV and HPV-related cancer researchers, clinicians, and public health professionals from National Cancer Institute-funded cancer centers as well as public health organizations including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Cancer Society. The goal of the most recent conference was to reduce HPV-related cancers and increase rates of HPV vaccination in the United States.

According to the CDC, incidence rates of HPV-associated cancers have continued to rise, with approximately 39,000 new HPV-associated cancers now diagnosed each year in the United States. "The nanovalent HPV vaccine prevents 90% of cervical and HPV-related cancers, yet vaccination completion rates remain under 50%. As the only NCI-designated cancer center in South Carolina, it is our job to educate the public on the risks of not vaccinating your child and advocate for increasing these rates in our state and across the nation," says Dr. Gustavo Leone, Director at the MUSC Hollings Cancer Center

The first National HPV Conference was hosted by the Moffitt Cancer Center in January, 2015. The event included national leaders whose common goal was to begin a nation-wide conversation on HPV vaccine uptake among those cancer centers who had been awarded a grant to evaluate statewide efforts. The second conference was hosted by the MD Anderson Cancer Center in November, 2015, opening attendance to all NCI–designated centers across the country. This meeting resulted in the first ever NCI-designated Cancer Center consensus statement endorsing the HPV vaccine for cancer prevention. All 69 NCI-designated cancer centers signed on.

In 2016, the third conference was held at The Ohio State University and included individuals from nationally recognized public health and health promotion organizations, including the CDC, American Cancer Society, and National HPV Roundtable. Following the conference, a second consensus statement was released, supporting revised dose recommendations from the CDC.

"4,000 women die of cervical cancers each year in the US, more than any other disease that we vaccinate against in childhood. These patients are subjected to radical treatments including radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery with lasting side effects, including loss of fertility. We must do everything in our power to prevent this disease from affecting our children," says Dr. Jennifer Young Pierce, a gynecologic oncologist and surgeon at the MUSC Hollings Cancer Center.

Tamika Felder, Founder and Chief Visionary of cervical cancer advocacy group Cervivor delivered the keynote presentation, sharing the story of her own diagnosis with cervical cancer. The 2017 meeting brought together a total of 82 HPV experts from 25 states, 49 organizations, and 30 cancer centers in an effort to address insufficient vaccination rates and public health issues relating to HPV. The MUSC Hollings Cancer Center and NCI-designated cancer centers continue to play a prominent role in the fight to reduce HPV-related cancers in the U.S.

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