News

  • Cancer center joins call for urgent action to get cancer-preventing HPV vaccination back on track

    Cancer center joins call for urgent action to get cancer-preventing HPV vaccination back on track

    The COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted delivery of key health services for children and adolescents, including HPV vaccination for cancer prevention

    INDIANAPOLIS—Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center has joined National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer centers and other organizations in a joint statement urging the nation’s health care systems, physicians, parents and children, and young adults to get the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination back on track.

    Dramatic drops in annual well visits and immunizations during the COVID-19 pandemic have caused a significant vaccination gap and lag in vital preventive services among U.S. children and adolescents—especially  for the HPV vaccine. The pandemic also has exacerbated health disparities, leaving Black, Indigenous and other people of color; rural; and sexual minority adolescents at even greater risk for missed doses of this cancer prevention vaccine.

    Nearly 80 million Americans – 1 out of every 4 people – are infected with HPV, a virus that causes six types of cancers. Of those millions, nearly 36,000 will be diagnosed with an HPV-related cancer this year.

    Despite those staggering figures and the availability of a vaccine to prevent HPV infections, HPV vaccination     rates remain significantly lower than other recommended adolescent vaccines in the United States. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, HPV vaccination rates lagged far behind other routinely recommended vaccines and other countries’ HPV vaccination rates. According to 2019 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), just more than half (54%) of adolescents were up to date on the HPV vaccine.

    Those numbers have declined dangerously since the pandemic.

    • Early in the pandemic, HPV vaccination rates among adolescents fell by 75%, resulting in a large cohort of unvaccinated children.
    • Since March 2020, an estimated one million doses of HPV vaccine have been missed by adolescents  with public insurance—a decline of 21% over pre-pandemic levels.
    • Adolescents with private insurance may be missing hundreds of thousands of doses of HPV vaccine.

    "Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many adolescents have fallen behind with their routinely recommended vaccines, particularly HPV vaccine," Gregory Zimet, PhD, professor of pediatrics at IU School of Medicine and a researcher at IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center, said. "Earlier in the pandemic, parents were reluctant to bring their adolescents to health clinics and doctors’ offices for immunizations. However, now is the time to get back on track as a nation and in Indiana with adolescent vaccination to ensure we protect our youth and our communities."

    The United States has recommended routine HPV vaccination for females since 2006 and for males since 2011. Current recommendations are for routine vaccination at ages 11 or 12 or starting at age 9. Catch-up HPV vaccination is recommended through age 26. Adults aged 27 through 45 should talk with their health care providers about HPV vaccination because some people who have not been vaccinated might benefit. The HPV vaccine series is two doses for children who get the first dose at ages 9 through 14 and three doses for those who get the first dose at ages 15 and older and for immunocompromised people.

    NCI cancer centers strongly encourage parents to vaccinate their adolescents as soon as possible. The CDC recently authorized COVID-19 vaccination for 12- to 15-year-old children allowing for missed doses of routinely recommended vaccines, including HPV, to be administered at the same time. NCI cancer centers strongly urge action by health care systems and providers to identify and contact adolescents due for vaccinations and to use every opportunity to encourage and complete vaccination.

    "HPV vaccination is cancer prevention. By catching up on missed doses of HPV vaccine now, we will protect our adolescents from serious diseases, including cervical and head and neck cancers. Vaccinating our adolescents against COVID-19, now available for ages 12 years and older, is a reminder to ensure that they are also protected from HPV through vaccination," Zimet, also co-director of the IUPUI Center for HPV Research, said.

    More information on HPV is available from the CDC and National HPV Vaccination Roundtable. This is the fourth time that all NCI-designated cancer centers have come together to issue a national call to action. All 71 cancer centers unanimously share the goal of sending a powerful message to health care systems, physicians, parents and children, and young adults about the importance of HPV vaccination for the elimination of HPV-related cancers.

    Organizations endorsing this statement include the Association of American Cancer Institutes; American Association for Cancer Research; American Cancer Society; American Society of Clinical Oncology; American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology; American Society of Preventive Oncology; and the Prevent Cancer Foundation. 

    Contact: Michael Schug, maschug@iu.edu 

    ####

    About IU School of Medicine

    IU School of Medicine is the largest medical school in the U.S. and is annually ranked among the top medical schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The school offers high-quality medical education, access to leading medical research and rich campus life in nine Indiana cities, including rural and urban locations consistently recognized for livability.

  • Cancer researchers study cognitive dysfunction after chemotherapy

    Cancer researchers study cognitive dysfunction after chemotherapy

    PITTSBURGH/INDIANAPOLIS—Cancer researchers at Indiana University and the University of Pittsburgh received a five-year, $3 million grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to study cognitive dysfunction after chemotherapy. 

    Following chemotherapy, survivors often find it more challenging to learn new tasks, remember words or do things as efficiently or quickly as they once did. That’s why Robert Ferguson, PhD, a clinical psychologist in the Behavioral Cancer Control Program at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, developed a cognitive behavioral therapy called Memory and Attention Adaptation Training, or MAAT, which will be the focus of the first large-scale, multi-center study thanks to the new grant. 

    Ferguson is collaborating with Brenna McDonald, PsyD, a member of the Cancer Prevention and Control research program at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center, to test MAAT and supportive therapy to determine the effects of both on improving memory problems and emotional resilience among breast cancer survivors.

    MAAT is cognitive behavioral therapy in which survivors work with a psychologist to identify specific situations at home or on the job where memory problems are likely to occur and to learn specific strategies to address those issues. In supportive therapy, survivors also work with the psychologist, but they explore emotional strengths and build resilience in coping with memory problems and cancer survivorship in general. Both therapies consist of eight telehealth visits of 45-minutes each.

    “The survivor and therapist review what is currently known – and not known – about memory problems associated with cancer and cancer treatment,” said Ferguson, an assistant professor of hematology/oncology in Pitt’s School of Medicine. “They also address distress and aggravation that can accompany memory difficulty in daily life to identify the specific situations and apply strategies to reduce or mitigate memory problems.”

    Participants will learn to recognize that everyone at some point forgets something, said McDonald, professor of radiology and imaging sciences at IU School of Medicine. 

    “We all sometimes forget something, such as why we walked into a room. And that's OK. We know, however, that patients are quick to attribute that to their treatment, which makes them feel helpless,” she said.

    Both therapies have been designed and tested as a telehealth-delivered therapy to reduce travel and time burdens on survivors and families. While it can be delivered in-office, too, many survivors have exhausted their paid time off work and may have used much of their savings to help pay for cancer treatment, so the telehealth option is often preferred.

    With the latest grant, the researchers will look at the functional MRI of participants to evaluate underlying changes in brain activation patterns that are believed to be associated with treatment. In previous research, McDonald and Ferguson have demonstrated enhanced working memory following treatment among individuals with traumatic brain injury.

    The two researchers are building on a collaboration that started when they were both faculty at Dartmouth College nearly two decades ago. They conducted small clinical trials and pilot studies on the cognitive symptoms in breast cancer patients, which led to the development of MAAT.  

    Pitt and IU each hope to evaluate 100 women, half of whom will receive MAAT while the others receive the supportive therapy. 

    For more information visit: https://hillmanresearch.upmc.edu/telehealth-and-memory-study/.

    Contact: Michael Schug, maschug@iu.edu, 317-417-0709

    ###

    About IU School of Medicine
    IU School of Medicine is the largest medical school in the U.S. and is annually ranked among the top medical schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The school offers high-quality medical education, access to leading medical research and rich campus life in nine Indiana cities, including rural and urban locations consistently recognized for livability.

    About the IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center
    The Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of only 51 National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the nation, is home to the cure of testicular cancer and the world’s only healthy breast tissue bank. The prestigious NCI comprehensive designation recognizes the center’s excellence in basic, clinical, and population research, outstanding educational activities, and effective community outreach program across the state. The center’s physician-scientists have made protocol-defining discoveries that have changed the way doctors treat numerous forms of cancer. 

See all news »

Presentations

There are no events at this time.