Canceling Out Cancer: Doctors Push For HPV Vaccine - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Canceling Out Cancer: Doctors Push For HPV Vaccine

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SALISBURY, Md. - Pediatrician Katherine Layton knows a lot about childhood cancer and not just from her professional experience.  In 2002, her 4-year-old nephew Ben lost his battle against leukemia.  Today the Ben's Red Swings playground in Salisbury is named in his honor.

"Once you met Ben you would never forget Ben," said Layton. "I like to think he's looking down and smiling when all the kids are playing here in his memory."
 
Layton says had there been a vaccine that could have protected Ben from leukemia, she believes her brother and sister-in-law wouldn't have hesitated to have him vaccinated.  That is why she says she's perplexed by some parents' reluctance to vaccinate their preteen boys and girls against HPV or human papillomavirus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HPV is linked to a long list of cancers including cervical, anal and penile cancer.. http://bit.ly/1hbiCKd

Dr. John Mansueti, an oncologist at Peninsula Regional Medical Center, says what often complicates the conversation is the fact that HPV is sexually transmitted.  He says parents can be uncomfortable considering that possibility when their child is only an adolescent which is the best time to get vaccinated.  But Mansueti encourages parents to remember the vaccine is meant to create immunity to a virus that their child might be exposed to much later in life.

"Our whole thought process has got to change, that this has nothing to do with the sexuality of the child," said Mansueti. "It really has to do with trying to prevent a future cancer in my child."

Both Mansueti and Layton say the HPV vaccine has proven to be safe with very few side effects.  To attain maximum effectiveness, doctors recommend children be vaccinated by the age of 11 or 12.  The vaccine requires a series of at least two shots, possibly three.  Parents are encouraged to discuss the vaccine with their pediatrician if they have questions.

"Cervical cancer really is a preventable disease in most cases and it's the HPV Vaccine," said Mansueti. "You can't cure anybody better than preventing it from the get go."

"Cancer has touched my family," said Layton.  "I can't imagine why you wouldn't want to protect your children from getting cancer later on in life."

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