Yuehan (Jenny) Zhang, ScM PhD Candidate in Cancer Epidemiology Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

HPV Vaccination Will Gradually Prevent Many Oropharynx Cancers

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Yuehan (Jenny) Zhang, ScM PhD Candidate in Cancer Epidemiology Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Yuehan Zhang

Yuehan (Jenny) Zhang, ScM
PhD Candidate in Cancer Epidemiology
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

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

Response: Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infectious virus worldwide. Oral HPV infection has resulted in a continual increase in the incidence of oropharynx cancer over the past two decades in the US.
New HPV infections are preventable with vaccines, which first entered use in the US in 2006.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: In this study, we analyzed national databases on oropharynx cancer cases and HPV vaccinations, and projected the impact of HPV vaccination on oropharynx cancer incidence in different age groups. We estimated that HPV vaccination would have a modest impact on overall oropharynx cancer incidence in the next 25 years, with incidence reductions exclusively among young and middle-aged adults (ages that already had a low risk of these cancers). However, oropharynx cancer incidence was projected to continue increasing among older (unvaccinated) adults through 2045.

MedicalResearch.com: Are all adolescents currently offered HPV vaccines?

Response: According to the latest recommendations by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), HPV vaccination in the US is routinely recommended at age 11 or 12 years and can be given starting at age 9 years. Catch-up HPV vaccination is recommended for all individuals through age 26 years.

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

Response: HPV vaccination will eventually prevent many oropharynx cancers, but it will take more than 25 additional years to see these impacts. Indeed, overall incidence of oropharynx cancer will continue to increase for many more years before current HPV vaccination rates in the US can slow and then reverse these trends. While the risk of developing oropharynx cancer remains low, most of these cancers between 2020 and 2045 will occur among older individuals who have not yet been vaccinated.

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

Response: There are complexities and uncertainties surrounding predictions of vaccination impact on oropharynx cancer incidence. Additional more complex simulation models may be done in the future, such as dynamic transmission models along with microsimulation models to capture both direct and indirect vaccine benefits.


Zhang Y, Fakhry C, D’Souza G. Projected Association of Human Papillomavirus Vaccination With Oropharynx Cancer Incidence in the US, 2020-2045. JAMA Oncol. Published online September 02, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2021.2907

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Last Updated on September 7, 2021 by Marie Benz MD FAAD