Knowing more about viruses-cancer link

To the editor:

Despite the way the popular saying goes, what you don’t know can hurt you. And most people don’t know about the link between certain viruses and cancer. If left untreated, hepatitis B and C and the human papillomavirus (HPV) can lead to certain types of cancer. Knowing more about the link between viruses and cancer can help you protect yourself and your loved ones.

In Ohio, approximately 1,390 men and women are expected to be diagnosed with liver cancer in 2017. The hepatitis B vaccine or hepatitis C treatment can reduce the risk of this cancer. The hepatitis B vaccine is safe and effective, and recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for newborns, children who were not vaccinated at birth and adults who are at increased risk. Although no vaccine exists for hepatitis C, curative treatment options are available. By treating the viral infections, you can prevent liver cancer and other serious liver diseases.

African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Hispanics and baby boomers (born between 1945 and 1965) may be at increased risk for these viruses and should talk to a health care professional about getting tested and/or or vaccinated.

HPV infection, if left untreated, can also lead to cancer (including cervical, vaginal, vulvar, anal, penile, and oropharyngeal cancers). The HPV vaccine–recommended by the CDC in two doses for girls and boys ages 11 to 12 (when the immune system response is strongest)–can greatly reduce the risk of these cancers. A catch-up vaccine may also be an option for teenagers and young adults.

You may be one vaccination away from preventing cancer. Learn more about the link between viruses and cancer by visiting www.thinkaboutthelink.org.

LEEANN JOHNSON

Salem

(LeeAnn Johnson is a member of the Congressional Families Cancer Prevention Program, and the spouse of U.S. Representative Bill Johnson. Statistics provided by the Prevent Cancer Foundation®, American Cancer Society and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)

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