ADA adopts new HPV vaccine policy for the prevention of oral HPV infection

Oral cancers stemming from HPV are on the rise, and dental professionals are urged to support patients to receive the vaccination.

With the number of cases of HPV-associated cancers on the rise, the American Dental Association (ADA) has adopted a policy that urges dentists to support the use and administration of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.

The American Cancer Society estimated that there would be more than 50,000 new cases of oral and oropharyngeal cancers in 2018, of which 70 to 80 percent would be attributable to HPV. The HPV vaccine could help prevent the vast majority of oropharyngeal cases, but compared to other vaccines in the U.S., it is underutilized. According to the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs, the single best predictor of whether a young person or adolescent receives the vaccine is a recommendation from a trusted health care professional.

Read more: Raising awareness about HPV-linked oropharyngeal cancer

“There is incontrovertible evidence that this virus is responsible for the sharp uptick in oropharyngeal cancers, especially in younger patients and young adults,” says Paul Eleazer, DDS, immediate past chair of the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs. “I’m pleased the ADA is taking action to combat this crisis.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices as well as the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that boys and girls receive the HPV vaccine during adolescence. For adults who did not receive the vaccine in adolescence, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently announced approval for persons ages 27 to 45 to be vaccinated.