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The Cancer Prevention Vaccine That Every Man Should Get

Head and neck cancers are on the rise, particularly in men, and the culprit is the human papillomavirus or HPV.

Preventing cancer with a vaccine may seem too good to be true, but for cancers caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) that’s exactly what we have. This vaccine is most commonly recommended for young adults (ages 9 to 26), so you may be surprised to learn that those 27 years and older of all genders can benefit from this life saving shot.

HPV is well known for being a primary cause of cervical cancer, but many are unaware that the human papillomavirus causes 70% of all head and neck cancers, with 80% of throat cancer cases diagnosed in men. Unfortunately, due to low awareness, only 16.5% of men are vaccinated.


Why should you get vaccinated against HPV?

Most people (75%)  will have at least one type of HPV in their lifetime. It can present with no physical signs at all or as skin and genital warts. What we are most concerned with are the strains of HPV that cause the following common cancers:

    • Cervical, vaginal and vulva cancer
    • Penile cancer
    • Oropharyngeal cancer (back of the throat)
    • Anal cancer

While there are routine cervical cancer screenings for women, the same does not exist for oropharyngeal and other HPV-caused cancers. Lack of routine screening options, combined with low vaccination rates in men has led to rising rates of head and neck cancers over the past several years. This makes it increasingly important for everyone to engage with healthcare practitioners who can advise on the best plan for prevention and provide appropriate early detection screenings. 

What are the benefits of the vaccine?

Gardisil 9, the authorized HPV vaccine in Canada, is highly effective. In fact, it was found to be 100% effective in preventing infections and precancers caused by all seven of its targeted HPV types.  The results are so effective that Canada hopes to eliminate cervical cancer by 2040 through improved vaccination rates and early diagnostics.

To achieve similar results in men, and combat rising cases and limited awareness, a dramatic increase in vaccination rates for HPV cancers is required. Unfortunately, the pandemic has further exacerbated low vaccination rates for everyone.

Since HPV related diseases can persist as long as you are sexually active, particularly if you are in a non-monogamous relationship, or in the event that you change partners in the future, this vaccine is likely a smart choice for you. And, if you have been previously infected with one type of HPV, vaccination can still help protect you from other strains of the virus targeted by the vaccine.

Beyond vaccination, what can I do to protect myself?

In addition to vaccination, we recommend you speak to your healthcare team or physician about gender and age appropriate screenings and other research based cancer prevention care. They can help ensure you are taking every available step to detect changes in your health and prevent disease from taking hold in the first place.

Your next line of defense is to use protection during sexual activity and to limit sexual partners. Not only will you protect yourself, but your partner as well.

Be proactive with your healthcare

If proactive healthcare is a top priority for you, we encourage you to find a provider that is prevention-focused and up-to-date on the latest research. HPV-related cancers are preventable, so find out what you can do now (no matter your age or gender) to stay healthy.

At Harrison Healthcare, we are fortunate to be part of a precision health team that places an emphasis on practitioner and patient education. We spend ample time with each client in order to fully understand their health history and their needs. We educate them on disease prevention, early detection, and health optimization options based on their unique Precision Medicine Profile  so that their care plan is always personalized and unique to them. We strive to ensure our clients are active, well-informed participants in their lifelong health and wellness.


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We would like to acknowledge with gratitude that we operate on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations in Vancouver, and of the Blackfoot Confederacy (Siksika, Kainai, Piikani), the Tsuut’ina, the Mountain Nakoda Nations, and the Métis Nation (Region 3) in Calgary. With appreciation, we recognize that these lands have been stewarded by them since time immemorial.

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