"Every parent should ask the question: If there was a vaccine I could give my child that would prevent them from developing six different cancers, would I give it to them?” Electra Paskett, co-director of the Cancer Control Research Program at Ohio State University, tells CBS News. The answer appears to be no. According to NBC News, a CDC report released Thursday shows a 17% increase in HPV-related cancers between 2004 and 2012 to nearly 39,000 per year. Dr. Lois Ramondetta, an expert in gynecologic oncology, says it's become an "epidemic" especially for men, in whom HPV can cause cancers of the mouth, tongue, and throat. HPV increases the risk of those cancers by at least seven times, and unlike with HPV-caused cervical cancer in women, there's no screening for them.
The CDC report found 93% of all HPV-related cancers could be prevented with the currently available vaccine. That's approximately 28,500 fewer cases of cancer every year, AFP reports. And yet in 2014, only 40% of teen girls and 22% of teen boys received the necessary three doses of the vaccine, which works best if administered before teens become sexually active. Paskett calls those numbers "extremely sad." “We must change the perception of the HPV vaccine from something that prevents a sexually transmitted disease to a vaccine that prevents cancer," she tells CBS. (Some British teens invented condoms that change color near HPV and other STDs.)