KSU doctor recommends HPV vaccine for men

Justine Stump


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The human papilloma virus, or HPV, is most often associated with cervical cancer, but it can also cause cancer in men.

According to the Center for Disease Control, HPV is the cause of almost 100 percent of cervical cancer, 35 percent of penile cancer and about 60 percent of oropharyngeal cancers (cancers in the back of the throat including the base of the tongue and tonsils). Both males and females can get vaccinated against HPV.

“With the vaccine I think we’re going to see less and less cases (of cervical cancer) progressing,” said Angela Dejulius, chief university physician at DeWeese Health Center.

About 12,000 women get cervical cancer in the U.S. each year. Almost all of these cancers are HPV-associated, according to the Center for Disease Control.

Cervarix and Gardasil are the two vaccines available to protect females against the types of HPV that causes most cervical cancers. Gardasil also protects against warts and vaginal and vulvar cancer.

In 2009 Gardasil was approved for men. According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, males who received the vaccine appear to be at a lower risk for contracting the virus, as well as developing the genital warts associated with it.

The vaccinations are recommended for people 13 through 26 years of age and are administered in a series of three shots.

Dejulius said the vaccines are approved by the Center for Disease Control and students can receive the shots at the DeWeese Health Center.

Tabatha Pizanie, junior architecture major, had the HPV vaccination, Gardasil, when she was 17.

“My doctor recommended it to me,” Pizanie said. “I thought about how my grandma had cervical cancer and I figured I might as well get (the vaccine) and not worry about getting it, too.”

Pizane said she received the series of three shots and after the second shot she experienced some nausea and felt dizzy. She said there was some pain, but “it’s really not that bad.”

“A lot of what determines whether or not people get the shot is whether or not insurance covers it. It’s an expensive vaccine,” Dejulius said.

Pizane said her insurance did pay for the vaccine, but if it had not, she would have still received it.

Dejulius said she thinks it’s still too soon to tell if it’s worth it for males to get the vaccine, but said she’s not aware of any negative effects.

“Males do get infected (with HPV),” she said. “About 50 percent of men are infected, but men rarely get disease (from it). I think it has to be a personal decision for men whether they want to get (the vaccine) or not.”

Dejulius said if the vaccine is not covered by insurance it can be costly, but “think about how many condoms you could buy for $450.” She said it’s always a cost benefit analysis.

“Students should all be thinking about how to protect themselves,” Dejulius said. “And they should always wear a condom.”

Contact Justine Stump at [email protected].