HPV Vaccination in Boys Found Cost-Effective in Preventing Oropharyngeal Cancer

Christina Izzo

A new study has shown that vaccinating adolescent boys may be cost-effective for preventing oropharyngeal cancer, a disease that’s projected to become the most common HPV-related cancer by 2020. HPV, also known as human papillomavirus, is also responsible for most cervical cancers, as well as vulvar, vaginal, penile and anal cancers. 

The results of the study, published early online in Cancer, estimated a savings between $8 million to $28 million Canadian dollars [$6.5M-$22.5M USD] over the course of a 12-year-old’s lifetime.

HPV vaccination has proven effective against HPV-related disease in both sexes. While policymakers in many countries, including the United States, Canada, Austria and Australia, have recommended HPV vaccination in boys, it is excluded from national immunization programs in many countries worldwide, noted study leader Lillian Siu, of the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network.

“We hope that results from this study would raise awareness and lead to further assessment of this important public health issue,” Siu said in a statement.

For the study, the investigators applied a statistical model to a population of 192,940 Canadian boys who were 12 years old in 2012. Assuming 99 percent vaccine efficacy and 70 percent update, the study found .05 more quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) and a savings of $145 Canadian dollars [$118 USD] per individual compared with those who received no vaccine.

When adjusting for 50 percent vaccine efficacy and 50 percent uptake, there were .023 more QALYs and a savings of $43 Canadian dollars [$34 USD].

Potential factors that could impact the cost savings of HPV vaccination in boys include vaccine cost, vaccine effectiveness, cost of cancer treatment 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 developing countries,” coauthor Donna Graham, also from the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, said in a statement. “It is projected that by 2020, HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer will become the most common HPV-related cancer in the United States, surpassing cervical cancer.”
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