News from the Director's office - May 2017

News from the Director's Office this month is all about getting informed. We’ve just published a short report on human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated cancers highlighting that they are becoming an ever more important public health concern.  This is not just because of increases in diagnoses but also because of a down turn in HPV immunisation here in Ireland.

Why should we all be concerned?

Numbers of HPV-associated cancers are going up faster (2% per year) than other more common cancers, especially mouth/throat and anal/rectal cancers (over 3.5% per year). Survival for HPV-associated cancers (5-year average ranges 44% to 68%) is poorer than for other more common cancers.The best opportunity is to prevent and screen for HPV-associated cancers. Although possible for cervical cancer, other HPV-associated cancers have no screening.

Preventing HPV is the only currently available means to limit increases in HPV-associated cancers. Yet Irish HPV vaccine rates have declined and are well below the 80% or higher HSE target that has been achieved in other countries like the UK and Australia. Much of the down turn in HPV vaccination has resulted from publicity on adverse HPV vaccine effects without adequate response from the public health sector to balance concerns.

Health decisions are personal and each person should make choices that are right for themselves and their family members.  But those choices should be well informed. There is ample accessible high quality HPV evidence-based information, in Ireland and beyond. If you or anyone you know is concerned about HPV-associated cancers and/or HPV vaccination get informed! Below are some helpful sources of HPV-related information.

Heath Service Executive

Irish Cancer Society

NCRI  or

Cancer Council Australia (Australia)  

National HPV Vaccination Program (Australia)

National Health Service (UK)

Cancer Research UK (UK)

National Cancer Institute (USA)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (USA)

American Cancer Society (USA)

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