Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
Why don’t we vaccinate teen boys against HPV as well as girls? Especially given the cancer risk for them.
Christina S. Chu, MD, Assistant Professor of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, responds:
In general, men are at low risk for penile cancer. The exception is for men who have sex with other men and those who are immunocompromised. I think it would actually be a good idea to vaccinate boys as well given that they carry and transmit HPV infection at the same rate that girls do. Studies of vaccinations in other areas (such as Rubella) show that vaccinating everyone, not just a certain target population, is more effective
Harry Quon, MD, MS (CRM), Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania, responds:
There are studies underway asking if vaccination of boys may be effective.
In the meantime, safe sexual practice including the use of barrier methods and understanding that the risk increases with the number of partners are important to help reduce the risk at this time.
This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series, How Much Do You Know About HPV?. View the entire transcript here.