While many western countries have female HPV vaccination programs for the prevention of cervical cancer, cost effectiveness of male HPV vaccinations remains controversial, according to a study published in the online peer reviewed journal, Cancer, which states vaccinating 12-year-old boys against HPV may be a cost-effective strategy for preventing oropharyngeal squamous cell cancer.
Researchers studied 192,940 Canadian boys who were 12 years old in 2012. The HPV vaccine could save $8 million to $28 million Canadian dollars over the boys’ lifetime, according to the study. Factors that impact cost of HPV vaccinations in boys included vaccine cost, vaccine effectiveness, cancer treatment cost and survival of patients with HPV-related oropharyngeal cancers.
“We believe this study is important because HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer has increased significantly in incidence, especially in developed countries,” Donna Graham, MB, BcH, MRCPUK, of the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network, Toronto, said in a press release. “It is projected that by 2020, HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer will become the most common HPV-related cancer in the U.S., surpassing cervical cancer.”
Researchers stated the study is the first of its kind to use a simplified model that includes assumptions about the pathogenesis and treatment course of HPV-OPC.
“Because of the increasing risks of HPV-OPC in men as causes of mortality and morbidity, and because OPC constitutes 78.2% of HPV-associated cancers in men, we focused on HPV-OPC to estimate the potential benefit from vaccination,” researchers stated in the study. “According to the findings of this preliminary analysis, HPV vaccination for boys aged 12 years may be a cost-effective strategy in relation to the prevention of OPC alone, strengthening the cost effectiveness of a male vaccination program.”
Policymakers in several countries recommend HPV vaccination for boys, including the U.S., Canada, Austria and Australia, but it is not funded and excluded from national immunization programs in many countries, Lillian Siu, MD, FRCPC, said in a press release.
“We hope that results from this study would raise awareness and lead to further assessment of this important public health issue,” Siu said.
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