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Advice for ages 27 to 45: should you get the HPV vaccination?

In June 2019, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted in favor of catch-up HPV vaccination for men and women through age 26. ACIP did not recommend catch-up HPV vaccination for adults age 27 through age 45. Instead, ACIP recommended “shared clinical decision making” for men and women ages 27 through 45 years. What does this mean for you or your loved ones who fall in this age range and haven’t had the HPV vaccination?

“While HPV vaccination is highly effective when given at the recommended age of 11-12, most adults will have minimal benefit,” said Debbie Saslow, PhD, manager director of HPV & GYN cancers. “The recommendation is to talk with your health care provider about whether to get vaccinated if you are 27 years old or older. Three doses are recommended for those who choose to get vaccinated in this age range.”

Most HPV-related cancers are thought to have been caused by HPV infections acquired at younger ages. While a small number of people will benefit from vaccination at older ages, little evidence is available on who those people are or what the benefit would be.

“If you haven’t been vaccinated against HPV before and are within ages 27-45, getting vaccinated now may have no benefit at all, or it might prevent an HPV infection that could lead to genital warts, or—for women—a cervical precancer (that would likely be detected during routine screening, but which might require invasive follow-up procedures), or possibly an HPV cancer” said Dr. Saslow.

It has been suggested that adults more likely to benefit from vaccination are those who have had limited exposure to HPV in the past and who plan to have new sex partners, such as men and women who are newly divorced or widowed. Adults who are least likely to benefit from vaccination are those who are in a long-term monogamous relationship or who are not (and don’t plan to be) sexually active.

If you have already been diagnosed with an HPV-related cancer or precancer, then HPV vaccination will not help to treat any existing infection. HPV vaccination only prevents new HPV infections.

Insurance coverage might also be a determining factor in deciding whether to get the vaccine at age 27-45. “Some insurers pay for any vaccine recommended by ACIP, including those with shared decision making, as soon as the vote is taken,” said Dr. Saslow. “Other insurers do not currently pay for adult HPV vaccination but will once the CDC publishes the recommendation, usually within a few months, or at the end of the year.”

For more information, visit cancer.org/hpv.


  • ACS receives second Golden Lungs award from Poland

    Our tobacco control efforts are helping save lives worldwide

    Cliff Douglas, JD, our vice president for tobacco control, received the prestigious Golden Lungs award from Poland’s Health Promotion Foundation while in the country attending two public health conferences in June.

    The award is given to individuals who have made a significant impact on public health and quality of life in Poland. Our former chief executive officer, John Seffrin, PhD, was given this honor in 2008.

    “The award is a testament to the longstanding role that ACS, as a public health leader from the West, has played in supporting this cause in Poland starting before the fall of the Iron Curtain and accelerating thereafter,” said Cliff. “Smoking prevalence and related mortality and morbidity in Poland have fallen dramatically since the early-1990s, and Polish health and government leaders regard their relationship with ACS as a crucial component in their progress.” 

    In his presentations, Cliff shared the health benefits of tobacco control and the proven policy options available to achieve public health progress in the fight to defeat the tobacco epidemic globally, including taxation and pricing, advertising, packaging, warning labels, smoking in public places, and supporting people who want to quit smoking. 

    Poland was at one time the largest tobacco producer in Europe. As part of the Communist Bloc, its government and economic situation did not allow for any real tobacco control legislative measures or regulations (warning labels on cigarettes, truth in advertising, etc.). This led Poland to becoming the leader in tobacco consumption and tobacco deaths by the year 2000. 

    Poland became a Party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control on December 14, 2006. Over the years, anti-tobacco efforts introduced by countries like the U.S. have been implemented and, while it is far behind where the U.S. is in tobacco use, it is finally seeing success in their efforts. One of the initiatives that has been successful in Poland is based on our Great American Smokeout.

    The Calisia World Conference on Family Health took place in in the historic city of Kalisz, June 9 - 11, and the Polish-American Collaborations in Public Health: Tobacco Control and Clean Air conference in Warsaw. The two events brought together scientific and medical experts, policy makers, public health professionals, and public health and medical students from Eastern, Central, and Western Europe, and the U.S.

    Cliff is pictured in the top photo being presented the Golden Lungs award from Witold A. Zatoński, MD, president and founder of the Health Promotion Foundation in Poland. The award, pictured in the smaller image, is a pair of golden lungs with the Polish words “Nie Pale,” which means “I don’t smoke.”

    For a comprehensive look at tobacco control in Poland, read this study.


  • Health equity webinar series kicks off July 15

    Volunteers are encouraged to attend!

    On July 15, the American Cancer Society will kick off a series of webinars aimed at increasing the understanding of our role in health equity and how it impacts the fight against cancer this month.

    Hosted by medical experts and members of the health equity team, these one-hour webinars will cover several health equity topics and solutions that will help ACS achieve its goals. 

    The first webinar in the series, Health Equity: Show Me the Data, is scheduled for Monday, July 15, at 2 p.m. ET and is open to all interested volunteers and staff. Join the webinar here.

    We have made great progress in reducing cancer mortality, but disparities persist across the cancer continuum. Health disparities refer to differences in health outcomes between populations and are the result of health inequities. To accelerate our progress, we must continue to advance health equity so that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible. 

    Staff and volunteers should tune into this webinar to understand the cancer disparities that might exist in their communities and the drivers of those disparities so that they can identify ways to help eliminate them. Future webinars will highlight best practices for volunteers and staff to achieve health equity.

    The presenters are Kim Miller, MPH, senior associate scientist, Surveillance Research, ACS, and Electra Paskett, PhD, Marion N. Rowley Professor of Cancer Research, Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, Department of Internal Medicine, College of Medicine, Ohio State University. They will define health disparities; summarize cancer disparities data and trends, including by socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, and geography; and explain why the underlying factors that drive disparities compel us to focus on health equity. 

    Additional webinars will take place later this year. For more information, please contact healthequity@cancer.org




  • Few colleges and universities are 100% smoke- or tobacco-free

    ​Despite the increase in smoke-free environments in the US, only 16.7% of the country’s colleges and universities had 100% smoke- or tobacco-free protections in 2017. That’s according to a study published July 1 in Tobacco Control

    This is the first time researchers documented how many college students, faculty, and staff were benefiting from smoke-free protections. 

    “Our findings highlight that, through efforts such as the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) Tobacco-Free Generation Campus Initiative, we have protected at least 15 million college students and nine million faculty and staff from exposure to toxic secondhand tobacco smoke,” said Cliff Douglas, our vice president of tobacco control and one of the study’s authors. However, those numbers represent only about 27% of all college students and 25% of college faculty and staff. 

    To get the 100% smoke-free designation, smoking had to be banned anywhere on all campuses of the college or university at any time. If the ban included non-combustible products like smokeless tobacco, schools received the 100% tobacco-free designation. 

    The study, led by the National Cancer Institute, combined and analyzed data from two sources. Data on accredited, degree-granting institutions came from the U.S. Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), while information on campus protections came from the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation’s (ANFR) Smoke-free and Tobacco-Free Colleges and Universities List. Out of 4,938 higher education institutions in the IPEDS database, 823 were completely smoke- or tobacco-free. 

    Just three states – Arkansas, Iowa, and North Dakota -- had 100% smoke- or tobacco-free protections at more than half of their colleges and universities. Four states – Nevada, New Mexico, and Wyoming – and the District of Columbia had no known schools with those protections. The study identified only schools with 100% protections and did not include those with partial smoke-free policies.

    The study authors note that smoking tends to start when people are young and develop into regular smoking as they get older. In fact, some 99% of all adult cigarette smokers started before they were 26. 

    Smoking increases the risk for several cancers, and accounts for about 30% of all cancer deaths in the U.S., including about 80% of all lung cancer deaths. Smoking also increases the risk for COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and many other health problems.

    Exposure to secondhand smoke also increases a person’s risk of lung cancer and other health conditions because it has the same dangerous chemicals that smokers inhale. There is no safe level of exposure for secondhand smoke. 

    If more campuses adopted smoke-free policies, then college students, faculty, and staff would be less likely to start smoking and more likely to quit if they currently smoke, according to Bidisha Sinha, our director of Tobacco Control Initiatives, who leads the Tobacco-Free College Campus Initiative. She is also one of the study’s co-authors. 

    It would also protect young people from the dangers of secondhand smoke, she adds. “The ACS continues to expand its efforts in this area by awarding grants to campuses and working in collaboration with schools and public health programs to promote smoke- and tobacco-free policies across the nation,” said Bidisha.


  • First class of ACS SOURCE Program graduates in Kenya and Uganda

    A second cohort will graduate next year

    The first cohort of our Strengthening Organizations for a United Response to the Cancer Epidemic (SOURCE) Program graduated last week in two ceremonies in Uganda and Kenya. Twenty-six organizations graduated or completed the program across the two countries, and 15 graduated with distinction  

    The American Cancer Society launched the SOURCE Program in 2016 to share what we know about fighting cancer with emerging civil society organizations (CSOs) in Kenya and Uganda so that they can implement a more effective and collaborative response to the local cancer burden. 

    Using best practices in organizational development and ACS’s own organizational experience as the global leader in the cancer fight, participating organizations develop and strengthen their systems, processes, and human resources over a three-year timeframe.  

    This intensive program of training, technical assistance, and ongoing assessment gives organizations the guidance, mentorship, and practice to become stronger, more efficient, and more effective leaders in the fight against cancer.  

    The graduation ceremonies were preceded by a CSO exhibition to introduce the SOURCE Program organizations to a wider community of potential donors and supporters, including the US government, foundations, and businesses. It also included a national cancer forum led by the umbrella body organizations for cancer control in each country: the Uganda Cancer Society (UCS) and the Kenyan Network of Cancer Organizations (KENCO). Each forum attracted panelists from government and the private sector, as well as human rights advocates and survivors, who spoke about the need for collaboration and partnerships to address the growing cancer burden.   

    The ACS global team recognizes and appreciates the amazing contributions of Mabadiliko Changemakers in Uganda and Steps Ahead Consulting in Kenya for implementing this program on the Society’s behalf with dedication, aptitude, generosity, and professionalism.   

    “SOURCE is the best thing that has happened to us,” said Josephine Sitawa, breast cancer survivor and founder of Breast Cancer Kenya. We have grown from a young, naïve organization to a more focused one in a span of three years. The dedication and support of ACS and Steps Ahead has made us want to work smarter.”  

    A second cohort is underway and will graduate next year.  



  • CDC advisory committee on immunization practices supports HPV vaccination through age 45

    On June 26, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC,) made two recommendations regarding the use the human papilloma (HPV) vaccine: 

    • The ACIP harmonized recommendations for men and women, saying all men and women should receive the vaccine up to age 26.
    • The ACIP recommended shared clinical decision making for men and women ages 27-45.

    Below is a statement from Debbie Saslow, PhD, our managing director, HPV & GYN cancers:

    "The ACIP recommendation for catch-up vaccination for men and women through age 26 is simpler and more feasible for communicating and implementing vaccination efforts.

    "It's important to note that in their second recommendation, the ACIP did not recommend routine vaccination for patients between 27 and 45. Rather, the panel said those patients should discuss with their clinician whether a catch-up vaccination is right for them. Guidance will be needed to assist clinicians and patients in making these decisions. While HPV vaccination is safe for adults aged 27-45 years, there are limited health benefits gained vaccinating people in this age range. It's important to note that insurance coverage may be delayed until the recommendation is officially published—usually a few months after the ACIP vote.

    "Even with today's recommendation, the primary focus of efforts by the ACS and others will continue to be increasing vaccination in early adolescents. HPV vaccination efforts will still be focused on on-time vaccination at ages 11-12, or starting at age nine, based on strong evidence that on-time vaccination will prevent about 90% of HPV cancers. Evidence has further shown that vaccination at older ages will have limited impact on preventing cancer. It will be important to determine which individuals would be most likely to benefit from vaccination at older ages as well as how to best communicate with individuals inquiring about adult vaccination.

    "These new recommendations and the evidence supporting them will be reviewed by the American Cancer Society's independent guidelines review committee. For now, our recommendations remain unchanged. Further, women who have been vaccinated should continue to follow cervical cancer screening recommendations."

    For more information on HPV vaccination, visit www.cancer.org/hpv.




  • Lyda Hill Philanthropies gives ACS $4.6M to launch Mission: HPV Cancer Free Texas

    Lyda Hill Philanthropies is donating $4.6 million to support the American Cancer Society's campaign to reduce  HPV-related cancers in 26 counties in North Texas. Visit its website.

    Mission: HPV Cancer Free Texas is a three-year project focused on increasing preteen vaccination rates through key community and health system partnerships; evidence-based health care provider interventions; engaging state-level coalitions to increase availability and utilization of the HPV vaccine; and a public campaign. The goal is to have 80 percent of 13-year-old boys and girls in the targeted counties fully vaccinated with HPV vaccine by 2026.

    Just  under 40% of Texas children aged 13-17 have received the complete vaccination, which includes  two shots. That’s below the national average of 49% and ranks 44th among the 50 states. The share in Dallas County is 36%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Approximately 3,070 Texans are diagnosed every year with cancer caused by HPV. HPV infection is known to cause six different types of cancer including cervical and throat cancer. While HPV is very common, and most HPV infections go away on their own, there is no way to know if an infection will lead to cancer. 

    On June 7, the South Division is following up this major gift announcement with a forum in Arlington called Take a Shot! North Texas HPV Forum. It will be an important step in providing community healthcare providers with information on how to prevent HPV-related cancers, how to eliminate vaccine hesitancy, and how to reach an 80% completion rate by 2026. 

    “Cancer impacts us all, and we are fortunate to have a vaccine that is known to prevent six types of cancer," said Lyda Hill, founder of Lyda Hill Philanthropies. “We are enthusiastic to support the American Cancer Society’s Mission: HPV Cancer Free Texas effort to reduce the burden of HPV-related cancer across our community by increasing vaccination rates.”

    Ms. Hill is a Dallas entrepreneur, philanthropist, and chairman of LH Capital, Inc., a private investment firm.  Through her for-profit and not-for-profit investments, Ms. Hill is committed to funding game-changing advances in science and nature, to empowering nonprofit organizations, and to improving the local communities of greatest importance to her: North Texas and Colorado Springs.

    Read much more in this Dallas News article.



  • ​Op-Ed by Gary Reedy on eliminating surprise colorectal cancer screening bills for seniors runs in USA Today

    ​On May 31, USA Today ran an opinion piece from American Cancer Society (ACS) and American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) CEO Gary Reedy calling on the president and the administration to close a loophole that is resulting in surprise bills for seniors on Medicare. Read it here.

    Current law requires insurers to cover preventive services with an ‘A’ or ‘B’ rating from the United States Preventive Services Task Force with no cost sharing for patients. Colonoscopies get an ‘A’ rating for those aged 50 to 75. However, in Medicare if a pre-cancerous polyp is removed during the course of a routine screening colonoscopy, the test is being recoded from preventive to diagnostic and seniors are waking up to a bill in the hundreds of dollars. A third of seniors on Medicare are below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level and unexpected bills are unaffordable.

    Patients have told ACS that the potential for a bill is causing them to delay or skip the lifesaving screening. An analysis done for the ACS CAN shows that up to 2,000 colorectal cancer cases could be avoided each year among seniors if Medicare were to make this change and treat screening colonoscopies when polyps are removed as a preventive service.

    The previous administration closed this loophole in private insurance. In the USA Today commentary, Gary calls on the president and current administration to fix the problem for seniors on Medicare. The fix has bipartisan support and the president has been on record declaring surprise billing is a top priority. 

  • ACS hits a homerun with Minor League Baseball sun safety initiative this Memorial Day

    ​If you are one of the 40 million Americans heading to a Minor League Baseball™ (MiLB™) this summer, you just might catch a glimpse of the American Cancer Society's nationwide "Cover Your Bases" initiative to promote sun safety measures and educate baseball fans about the dangers of overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. 

    For the third consecutive year, ACS will partner with participating MiLB teams to provide free Blue Lizard Sunscreen samples to fans, players, staff, and all other attendees at their games.

    The annual campaign has impacted hundreds of thousands of individuals since its launch in 2017, not only providing sun protection, but also information on skin cancer and measures fans can take to help reduce their overall risk. Last year, MiLB clubs distributed more than 100,000 free samples of sunscreen across 39 states. 

    This year, from May 27 - June 30, more than 120 MiLB teams are participating, and they plan to double their contribution to ACS through this program to half a million dollars. A real homerun!

    Skin cancer is by far the most common type of cancer in the U.S., and one of the best ways to help prevent it is by protecting the skin from excessive UV rays, including sun exposure and indoor tanning devices. ACS advises people to seek shade whenever possible, wear a hat, sunglasses, and protective clothing, and use broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher.

    "The American Cancer Society is proud to continue our work with Minor League Baseball," said Sharon Byers, chief development, marketing, and communications officer. "We deeply appreciate their support and the opportunity to share these important public health messages."

    To find a local game, visit milb.com/tickets. Visit cancer.org for more information about our partnership with Minor League Baseball.




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