Think About the Link Between Viruses and Cancer

March 31, 2016

Jeanne Ellinport

TATL_Jan2016_Title-LogoWorldwide, viruses cause one in five cancers. We have the science and resources to protect thousands of people from these viruses that lead to cancer. In recent research, we learned that the connection is missing between viruses and cancer, keeping vaccination rates at a low level. To close this gap and save lives, the Prevent Cancer Foundation launched a new education campaign called Think About the Link™.

Earlier this month, the Foundation held a briefing in Washington to present the campaign’s goals, share new research in the field of cancer and viruses and begin to bring awareness to this unknown link. Members of Congress and their staff, other healthcare organizations, patient advocates and others came together to Think About the Link™.

Representative Debbie Dingell (D-MI) kicked things off by discussing the importance of cancer prevention. Rep. Dingell, along with Representative Tim Murphy (R-PA), created the Cancer Prevention Caucus. She’s excited about the potential of this campaign to increase vaccination rates. “Think About the Link is a real campaign to save lives by getting those vaccinations,” said Rep. Dingell.

It is important that everyone understand the science behind these viruses and their link to certain cancers. Deputy Director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) John Schiller shared the latest research on the topic. The latest HPV vaccine fights 90 percent of the kinds of HPV that cause cancer. The HPV vaccination rate in the United States is far lower than in other developed countries. Only half of girls receive the first dose of the vaccine and only one-third receive the prescribed three doses.

Dr. Erich Sturgis, a member of the campaign’s advisory council, gave an overview of the campaign showing the nine states the campaign will focus on. The states were chosen based on high rates of the viruses or low vaccination rates. If you live in one of these states and want to get involved, please contact us.

Dr. Anna Giuliano, a researcher who developed the early research that led to the HPV vaccine, discussed the importance for parents to get their children vaccinated. Three out of ten physicians do not recommend the HPV vaccine to eligible patients (11-12 year olds) because they say parents are uncomfortable discussing HPV. She stressed the importance for both males and females to get the vaccine, HPV related cancers do not just affect girls.

It’s always important to hear from the patient advocates.  We want people to understand the effects that noncompliance can have.  Kim Jappell, a patient advocate who lost her mother to cervical cancer, shared her mother’s story to encourage others to get screened. “There’s a lot of hope for individuals to know their future doesn’t have to look like mine.”

Liver cancer is on the rise in the United States according to a recent CDC report, Expected New Cancer Cases and Deaths in 2020. Dr. Rohit Satoskar amplified the recent statistics calling to light the unknown link between hepatitis and liver cancer even though it’s preventable. 78 percent of liver cancer cases are caused by viral hepatitis, but 67 percent of adults are not aware of this connection.

Please check back frequently on our campaign page. To learn more about the campaign or to get involved, contact Kennesha.Baldwin@preventcancer.org.

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