Should men get cervical cancer shots too?

(Ko Yeong-ho, Director of Health Promotion Clinic, Busan West Branch, Korea Healthcare Association) Recently, more and more young men are looking for obstetrics and gynecology. He is to receive the HPV vaccine, which is what is known as the ‘cervical cancer vaccine’. HPV is known to cause cervical cancer in women, but recently, the voice that men should also prevent HPV is getting louder. Find out why men should get the HPV vaccine too.

□ HPV unfamiliar? 5% of all cancers have been attributed to HPV

There are more than 200 types of HPV (Human Papilloma Virus), which are common in both men and women. Of these, more than 40 types are transmitted through direct sexual contact. Even if you are infected with HPV, most of them are asymptomatic and go away on their own. However, if persistently infected, it causes diseases such as cervical cancer, vaginal cancer, and vulvar cancer in women, and head and neck cancer, rectal cancer, and genital warts in men . HPV infection is known to cause more than 600,000 cancers annually worldwide, accounting for approximately 5.2% of all cancers.

□ Trend in the number of cervical cancer patients by year in Korea

▷ Increase in ‘cervical cancer’ among young people in Korea

The most representative of HPV-related diseases is cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths among women aged 15-44 worldwide. According to the Catalan Institute of Oncology / International Agency for Research on Cancer (ICO) in Spain in 2019, there were 569,847 newly diagnosed cases of cervical cancer worldwide and an average of 853 deaths per day due to cervical cancer. The trend of cervical cancer patients in Korea is also a situation that needs attention. According to the trend in the number of cervical cancer patients per year published by the Healthcare Big Data Open System, the number of patients increased by 8.5% from 59,910 in 2017 to 65,013 in 2021. What should be noted is that oral cancer patients the relatively young womb in their 30s and 40s accounting for 35.9% and showing an increasing trend.

▷ The only way to prevent HPV is the ‘HPV vaccination’

Fortunately, HPV can be prevented by vaccination. This is because HPV infection is found in 99.7% of cervical cancer patients, and the cause, unlike other cancers, is clearly identified. The HPV vaccines currently available in hospitals are bivalent, quadrivalent, and 9-valent vaccines. In 2016, 10 years after the first HPV vaccine was introduced in Korea in 2006, a 9-valent vaccine was released that can prevent most types of HPV currently available. This 9-valent vaccine covers a total of nine types of HPV, including types 6 and 11 that cause genital warts and types 16, 18, 52, and 58 that can develop into cancer. The range of cancer prevention, such as genital warts, cervical cancer, rectal cancer, vaginal cancer, and vulvar cancer, is also wide at 90%. In 2020, the vaccination age for the 9-valent vaccine has been extended to women aged 45, so women can be vaccinated between the ages of 9-45 and men between the ages of 9-26.

▷ Both men and women need HPV vaccination

Recently, although the need for HPV vaccination for men has come to light, many questions have been raised about why men who do not yet have a uterus should get the HPV vaccination. However, HPV vaccination for men is beneficial for men’s health management. In addition, both men and women benefit greatly from being vaccinated. According to the global cervical cancer eradication plan published by the World Health Organization (WHO), most types of HPV, including HPV type 16, can be eliminated within 30 years when the male HPV vaccination rate and female achieving 75%.

In addition to herd immunity, male HPV disease must be prevented. Genital warts, the most common HPV disease in men, has tripled in the last decade. In particular, the incidence rate was high among young men (aged 25-29) who were relatively sexually active. The reason why the HPV vaccine is an important alternative for men is that the average rate of natural antibody production against HPV types 6, 11, 16, and 18 in men is low, at 7.7%. This means there is no way to prevent HPV infection without vaccination.

Recently, oropharyngeal cancer in men is increasing, so more attention is needed. In the United States, the incidence of oropharyngeal cancer, a type of head and neck cancer, surpassed cervical cancer as the most common HPV-related cancer in 2015. The domestic situation the one thing. According to statistics from related academic societies, the incidence of head and neck cancer in Korea has increased by 35% over the past 10 years (2010-2019).

▷ HPV vaccination available in nearby medical institutions

If you have sexual experience, some people hesitate to get vaccinated because of the rumor that the HPV vaccine is ineffective, but vaccination is meaningful regardless of their sexual experience. It is true that the best time to get vaccinated is before the start of sexual experience, but even if you have already been infected with HPV through sexual experience, you can prevent other types of viruses that cause HPV infections. There is no reason to delay getting vaccinated as the saying goes, ‘when you think it’s too late is the quickest time’.

In a situation where the cause of cancer is still unknown, HPV vaccination alone is a major advantage in preventing HPV, which causes 5% of all cancers. HPV vaccine can be given in various departments, including obstetrics and gynecology and urology. In the future, it is recommended that not only women under 45, but also young men in their 20s are vaccinated to prevent HPV.

# Data provided – Korea Healthcare Association Gyeongsangbuk-do Branch (North Daegu Health Examination Center)

Written by Director of Health Promotion Clinic, Busan West Branch, Korea Healthcare Association

Excerpted from the March 2023 issue of Korea Healthcare Association Health News


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