Our Looking Forward app helps answer your HPV questions and concerns.
Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center
There are two types of vaccines, or shots, that you can take to help prevent cancer or reduce your cancer risks. Both vaccines prevent viral infections that are known to cause several types of cancer. The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine prevents the virus responsible for cervical, head, neck, and other cancers. The hepatitis B vaccine protects against a virus that infects the liver and may lead to liver cancer.
Get the HPV Vaccine
Who: Doctors recommend boys and girls get the HPV vaccination series at ages 11-12, when other adolescent vaccines are also recommended. Children can start being protected at age 9. Teenagers and young adults who did not get vaccinated when they were younger should get it now.
What: UT Southwestern offers the Gardasil®9 vaccine that protects against six different HPV strains that cause most cases of HPV-related cancers and genital warts.
Why: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates approximately 80% of people will become infected with HPV in their lifetime. Most will clear their infection, but for some the infection will persist. This can lead to cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis, or anus. Persistent HPV infection can also cause cancer in the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils (called oropharyngeal cancer). Cancers caused by HPV usually do not have symptoms until they are quite advanced, making them harder to treat. That’s why it’s important to receive the vaccine and prevent infection from HPV.
Learn more: What is HPV?
Why It Matters
Jasmin Tiro, Ph.D., M.P.H., weighs in on the importance of protecting your children with the HPV vaccination.
Get the Hep B Vaccine
The hepatitis B vaccine offers long-term protection against a virus that can cause serious liver disease and liver cancer. If you are having sex with multiple partners or sharing needles to inject drugs, you may be at risk for hepatitis B.
Who: The CDC encourages hepatitis B vaccinations for all infants and unvaccinated children under the age of 19. The CDC also supports vaccination for people who are sexually active or use injection drugs, as well as for those with long-standing liver disease. Travelers to countries where the virus is common may also need to get the vaccine. Talk to your doctor about whether you should get vaccinated for hepatitis B.
What: There are several hepatitis B vaccines available in the United States. Usually, children and adults receive the vaccine in a series of three shots. The second shot is given one month after the first, along with another shot six months after the first. A new type of vaccine has now been approved for two doses.
Why: In some people, an infection with the hepatitis B virus can cause long-term liver disease. Over time, this can lead to liver cancer. You can become infected with hepatitis B through contact with the blood of a person who has the virus – often during sex or when sharing needles to inject drugs. A baby can be infected during birth if the mother has the virus. According to the CDC, vaccination is the best way to prevent hepatitis B.
Learn more: How can I get screened for hepatitis B and other viruses that can cause liver cancer?