Dr. Ashish A. Deshmukh UT Health School of Public Health Houston

Most Americans Unaware that HPV Causes Oral and Genital Cancers

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Ashish A. Deshmukh UT Health School of Public Health Houston

Dr. Deshmukh

Dr. Ashish A. Deshmukh
UT Health School of Public Health

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: The HPV vaccination is recommended for females and males for prevention of 6 cancers (cervical, oropharyngeal, anal, penile, vaginal, and vulvar). Nearly 43,000 HPV-associated cancer cases are diagnosed every year in the US. Yet, it is extremely unfortunate and something that continues to bother us that HPV vaccination coverage remains low (50% in 2018) in the US and completion rate is nearly 5% lower in boys. Different from some industrialized nations where vaccination policy is school-based, vaccination policy in the US is clinic-based and parents are generally responsible for making vaccination decisions for their children. Generally, there are two main factors that drive parents’ decision-making:
(1) how much knowledge they have of HPV and (2) recommendation from a healthcare professional.

We analyzed the National Cancer Institute’s Health Information National Trend Survey (HINTS) of over 6000 participants focusing on their knowledge of HPV and HPV vaccination and whether participants received any vaccination recommendation from their health care provider. 

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: What we found that men were substantially less knowledge (over 20% difference across the age) about HPV and HPV vaccination. The finding that was shocking to us was that over 75% of surveyed participants (both men and women) did not know that HPV causes oropharyngeal, anal, and penile cancers.

Similarly, fewer men than women (20% vs 33%) who were of vaccine-eligible age or had vaccine-eligible family members received HPV vaccination recommendation. However, what concerns us is that the communication between provider and parents regarding HPV and benefits of HPV vaccination remains sparse.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Given our alarming findings, we hope that our study will increase awareness and improve communication between healthcare providers and parents regarding the importance of HPV vaccination. It is essential to emphasize the message that HPV causes 6 cancers and the rates of two of those cancers (oropharyngeal cancer in men and anal cancer in women) are increasing rapidly in the US.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: National agencies are taking great efforts to improve HPV vaccination coverage in the US. Continued implementation of evidence-based interventions is important to overcome current barriers to HPV vaccination. Studies have documented that recommendations from a healthcare provider could influence HPV vaccination rates. Future work to eliminate current communication barriers and improve provider and patient/parent communication could help rapidly increase vaccination uptake.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health (award R01CA232888). Dr Deshmukh received consulting fees from Merck on unrelated projects outside the submitted work. 


Suk R, Montealegre JR, Nemutlu GS, et al. Public Knowledge of Human Papillomavirus and Receipt of Vaccination Recommendations. JAMA Pediatr. Published online September 16, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.3105



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Last Updated on September 16, 2019 by Marie Benz MD FAAD