The Observatory

Nov. 21, 2016

The link between HPV and cancer

is the number of HPV strains.

is the number of HPV strains that can cause cancer.

women are affected by HPV-causing cancers each year in the U.S.

men are affected by HPV-causing cancers each year in the U.S.

women in the U.S. get cervical cancer each year.

HPV strains 16 and 18
cause 70% of all cervical cancers.

HPV strains 16 and 18
can be prevented with HPV vaccines.

Two doses
is the number of HPV vaccines the CDC recommends for adolescents ages 11-12.

Sources: and


CDC recommends only two HPV shots for younger adolescents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that 11-12 year olds receive two doses of by human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine at least six months apart, rather than the previously recommended three doses, to protect against cancers caused by HPV infections. Teens and young adults who start the series later, at ages 15 through 26 years, will continue to need three doses of HPV vaccine to protect against cancer-causing HPV infection.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), a panel of experts that advises the CDC on vaccine recommendations in the U.S., voted to recommend a two-dose HPV vaccine schedule for young adolescents. CDC Director Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH, approved the committee’s recommendations shortly after the vote.

The CDC and ACIP reviewed data from clinical trials showing that two doses of HPV vaccine in younger adolescents (aged 9 to 14 years) produced an immune response similar to or higher than the response in young adults (aged 16 to 26 years) who received three doses.

Generally, preteens receive HPV vaccine at the same time as whooping cough and meningitis vaccines. Two doses of HPV vaccine given at least six months apart at ages 11 and 12 years will provide safe, effective, and long-lasting protection against HPV-associated cancers. Adolescents ages 13 and 14 are also able to receive HPV vaccination on the new two-dose schedule.

The CDC will provide guidance to parents, healthcare professionals, and insurers on the change in recommendation. On October 7, 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved adding a two-dose schedule for 9-valent HPV vaccine (Gardasil 9) for adolescents ages 9 through 14 years. The CDC is encouraging clinicians to begin implementing the two-dose schedule in their practice.


Should men get a PSA test for prostate cancer? When the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended against prostate-specific antigen screening for prostate cancer in 2012, researchers began studying what effect this would have on diagnosing and treating prostate cancer in medical practices nationwide. Last month, JAMA Surgery online reported a significant decrease in prostate biopsies and prostate cancer surgeries since the USPSTF’s recommendation. As recently as the 1990s, population-based screening programs were widely implemented in the U.S.

Jason Hafron, MD, a urologist and surgeon at Michigan-based Beaumont Health, insists that PSAs remain a valuable tool in diagnosing prostate cancer in certain men, and patients and their physicians should continue to discuss the risks and benefits of PSA screening. He adds that new technology, such as the use of biomarkers, advanced MRI imaging, and genetic testing, are also beneficial in preventing and treating prostate cancer.

Adherents of the PSA blood test say that men who might benefit include those who are ages 55 to 69, have a family history of prostate cancer, are African-American, or have had an abnormal result from a prostate exam.

“Urologists are now focusing on refining and identifying prostate cancer that is potentially lethal and should be treated,” says Hafron. “I agree we need to be smarter and selective of who we are screening and when, but we should not stop using PSA altogether as recommended by the USPSTF.”


Genetic risk factor for binge eating discovered. Researchers have identified a gene (CYFIP2) associated with binge eating. This finding represents one of the first examples of a genome-wide significant genetic factor to be identified for binge eating in model organisms or humans. In addition, the researchers discovered a network of downregulated genes involved in myelination (the process of forming a sheath around a nerve fiber to allow nerve impulses to move quickly) that also was associated with binge eating. These findings, which appear online in the journal Biological Psychiatry, could potentially lead to treatments targeted to normalize eating behaviors.

Using gene mapping and gene validation, researchers from Boston University School of Medicine were able to identify cytoplasmic FMR1-interacting protein 2 (CYFIP2) as a major genetic risk factor for binge eating. In addition, they observed that decreased myelination could be a neuropathological consequence of binge eating.

“Because we found changes in the brain as a consequence of binge eating that were predictive of decreased myelination, therapeutically promoting remyelination may represent a novel treatment avenue for promoting recovery from negative feeding behaviors in eating disorders,” explains corresponding author Camron Bryant, PhD.

Bryant and his colleagues believe these findings may lead to new therapeutic treatments which could ultimately save lives and restore healthy eating behaviors in conditions such as compulsive overeating, bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, and even substance use disorders.