The Markey Cancer Center joined a national movement encouraging people to get HPV vaccines.

Get the facts about the HPV vaccine

On Wednesday, the UK Markey Cancer Center, along with 68 of the nation’s top cancer centers, issued a statement urging young people in the U.S. to get a vaccination against the human papillomavirus, or HPV.

HPV, which is sexually transmitted, is responsible for about 27,000 new cancer cases in the U.S. each year, causing nearly all cervical and anal cancers and also the majority of throat and vaginal cancers, too.

Luckily, the HPV vaccine offers substantial protection against this threat. Unfortunately, not enough people are taking advantage of this rare opportunity to prevent many types of cancer.

In Kentucky, only about 37 percent of girls and 13 percent of boys complete the vaccination schedule, leaving a significant portion of the population at risk. That’s why Markey and others are calling upon the physicians, parents and young adults to learn more about the benefit of receiving the HPV vaccine.

“Although we have made progress in the past several years, Kentucky continues to rank first in the nation for both cancer incidence and mortality,” said Dr. Mark Evers, director of the UK Markey Cancer Center. “We are still in the top 10 nationally for cervical cancer deaths, and increasing the HPV vaccination rates will significantly lower this grim statistic.”

The HPV vaccine offers substantial protection against various cancers but experts say not enough people are taking advantage of it.

Understanding the benefits of the HPV vaccine might convince you that it’s right for you or someone you know.

The HPV vaccine protects against more than cervical cancer.

The vaccine actually protects against several types of cancer. It does so by targeting certain strains of HPV. These infections are spread through sexual contact. They can cause genital warts. But most cause no symptoms and go away without treatment.

Some HPV infections may linger for years in your body. These viruses may damage cells, eventually causing cancer. The HPV vaccine prevents those strains responsible for the majority of cervical cancers. It may also prevent HPV infections that lead to cancers of the throat, anus, penis and vagina.

The HPV vaccine is recommended for boys, girls, young men and young women.

In 2006, health experts recommended the HPV vaccine for females ages 9 to 26. But its potential to prevent other cancers besides that of the cervix made it appropriate for boys and young men, too. Doctors now encourage males ages 9 to 26 to also receive the vaccine.

Two types of HPV vaccine are available. They are Gardasil and Cervarix. Gardasil is approved for use in both sexes. Cervarix is only for girls and young women. Ideally, three doses of either vaccine are given over a 6-month period at ages 11 or 12 before any sexual activity.

The HPV vaccine is effective.

The HPV vaccine may not protect against all HPV infections that may promote cancer. But it can substantially lower the risk. In a recent study, researchers compared the HPV history of more than 4,000 women ages 14 to 59 over two 4-year periods. Those timeframes included 2003 to 2006—before the HPV vaccine became available—and 2007 to 2010—after it was in use. They found that the vaccine cut in half the number of HPV infections in girls ages 14 to 19.

The HPV vaccine is safe.

Past research including nearly 60,000 participants has confirmed the vaccine’s safety. But like all vaccines, side effects are possible. Most are minor. They may include pain and redness at the injection site, fever, dizziness or nausea. Some people have fainted after receiving the shot. In rare cases, blood clots and Guillain-Barré syndrome — a disorder that weakens muscles — have been reported.

Women who receive the HPV vaccine should still schedule regular Pap tests.

Pap tests detect abnormal cells in the cervix. They alert your doctor to potential cervical cancer. The HPV vaccine may prevent future HPV infections, but it doesn’t treat pre-existing ones. It also doesn’t prevent all types of cervical cancer. For these reasons, women should still schedule regular Pap tests.


Next steps:

  • If you or someone you love is interested in receiving the HPV vaccine, schedule an appointment with the Markey Cancer Center online or at 859-323-5553.
  • Read a blog by Dr. Hatim Omar, chief of the Adolescent Medicine at UK HealthCare, about the importance of including the HPV vaccine in all young adults’ health care plans.
  • Learn more about the Gynecologic Oncology Team at the Markey Cancer Center

Immunotherapy offers new hope for cancer treatment

Back in December, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter surprised the nation by announcing that he no longer had any traces of cancer in his system, just a few months after announcing a frightening stage IV melanoma diagnosis.

So what led to his surprising good news? A specific type of cancer treatment called immunotherapy.

Tips for shoveling snow safely

Think about your heart before you shovel

The combination of colder temperatures and physical exertion may increase the risk of a heart attack during snow shoveling.

To help keep you safe and minimize risk, we recommend the following precautions:

  • Individuals over the age of 55, or those who are relatively inactive, should be especially careful.
  • If you have heart trouble, do not shovel without a doctor’s permission.
  • Do not shovel after eating or while smoking.
  • Pace yourself. Be sure to stretch out and warm up just like you would before any exercise.
  • Push the snow as you shovel, do not pick up too much at once. Lift with your legs bent, not your back.
  • Do not work to the point of exhaustion. If you run out of breath, take a break.

Also, it’s important to know the warnings signs of heart attack. Often people affected aren’t sure what’s wrong and wait too long before getting help. If you experience any of the warning signs below, please contact emergency medical services immediately.

  • Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  • Like men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

 

UK HealthCare's tips for snow day safety

Tips for a fun, safe snow day

Snow days are a fun time for kids, but winter weather can be dangerous if the proper precautions aren’t taken. Here are some tips to make sure your child has an enjoyable day in the snow.

General safety

  • Use the buddy system. Kids should play in the snow with one or more friends, and an adult should supervise children under the age of 8.
  • Make sure kids take frequent breaks inside and that they’re staying well hydrated. Even in cold weather, it’s important to drink water after exercise and play.
  • Check kids periodically to make sure clothing and shoes are warm and dry. Wet clothing should be removed immediately.

Bundle up

  • Before kids head outside, dress them in layers. If they get too warm, they can remove one layer at a time.
  • Use mittens instead of gloves.
  • Make sure children always wear a hat and have their ears covered to prevent frostbite.
  • When kids return inside, make sure to remove all wet clothing immediately.

Sledding safely

  • Kids should wear a fitted helmet while sledding. Ski and hockey helmets provide more protection than bike helmets.
  • Ensure handles on the sled are secure before use.
  • Children should never sled on or near roads.
  • Always sit up or kneel on a sled. This helps prevent head and neck injuries.

Snow forts

  • Children should not play in snow forts or tunnels. They can collapse and cause suffocation.
  • Ensure kids stay away from snow banks near roadways. Snowplow drivers may not see children.
Snow day safety tips from UK HealthCare

Source: Safe Kids Fayette County