At West Michigan Cancer Center, we’re in the business of treating and healing people with cancer.  It is also our mission to educate the community about the tools available to prevent cancer before it happens.  That’s why we’ve begun a series of billboard messages aimed at spreading the message of cancer prevention. 

This month, our billboard message is simple:  Sex happens.  Cervical Cancer Doesn’t Have To.  Vaccinate Your Kids Against HPV. 

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month.  This is extremely timely, given the latest recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that both boys and girls beginning around age 9-10 should be vaccinated against HPV (human papillomavirus).  The vaccine protects against most types of HPV that cause cervical cancer.  Sadly, cervical cancer is responsible for more than 5,000 deaths in the United States each year.  HPV is also responsible for a large number (80%) of oropharyngeal cancers, penile cancers and anal cancers.  Recent national surveys show that HPV vaccine rates trail other teen vaccines.  Worse yet, poor and minority teens are less likely to finish the three-dose HPV vaccine series than other teens. 

So if you have children age 9 years and up, talk to their doctor about getting them vaccinated against HPV.