Cancer Prevention and Veterans: Vaccines Can Help

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This is the second blog post in a three part series dedicated to cancer prevention for veterans. Read the first blog post about what you can do now to prevent cancer here.

As discussed in the first blog post in this series, lifestyle factors such as exercise and healthy eating are very important, and lifestyle changes can have a major impact on cancer prevention. However, there are also ways to be proactive about your cancer risks.

An easy way to be proactive is to talk to your GP about cancer-preventive vaccines. Vaccines are safe, effective, and can reduce your risk of cancer.

Vaccination for Cancer Prevention: What Makes Sense to You?

Almost everyone is exposed to the human papillomavirus (HPV) at some point in their lives. In some people, HPV can cause cervical, vaginal, vulvar, anal, penile, and oral cancer. Almost all cervical cancers are caused by HPV. And HPV is believed to cause 70% of mouth and throat cancers.

HPV vaccination reduces your risk of cervical cancer by 90%. Female veterans can get the HPV vaccine through a family doctor. HPV vaccination is recommended for all women up to the age of 26 who have not received or completed the recommended vaccination course. Through shared clinical decision-making with your doctor, women between the ages of 27 and 45 may wish to discuss vaccination for some women who are at ongoing risk of HPV infection and who are under-vaccinated. Even if you had an abnormal Pap smear, you can still get vaccinated against HPV.

Men can also be vaccinated against HPV. It is also recommended that all men up to the age of 26 who have not completed the recommended course of vaccination receive the vaccine. Veterans ages 27 to 45 who are at ongoing risk of HPV infection and who are under-vaccinated can share clinical decision-making with their provider to determine if they need vaccination. Talk to your GP to see if you need to be vaccinated against HPV.

Although liver cancer is less common, it’s still a good idea to consider preventive measures. Hepatitis B vaccination can help reduce the risk of liver cancer. It’s important to discuss your concerns with your GP, who can help you decide whether to get a hepatitis B vaccine.

Choose VA for your cancer treatment

VA is focused on helping veterans with cancer live better lives. VA providers work hard to ensure the proper cancer screening occurs and, where necessary, work to find the best treatments for your cancer care needs. As a result, this can shorten your treatment time. You may also experience fewer side effects during treatment. All VA providers stand shoulder to shoulder with veterans and support them every step of their cancer journey.

To learn more about cancer care at VA, visit cancer.va.gov or email [email protected]

Cancer prevention during COVID-19

While COVID-19 is an ongoing concern, VA is taking precautions at all VA medical centers to protect you from the virus. Early detection of cancer is an important part of successful treatment, so regular appointments and cancer screening are key to veterans’ health.

Beginning January 18, 2022, the US government has made at-home COVID-19 testing kits available to every household. To order your at-home COVID-19 tests, visit https://www.covidtests.gov/.

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