CDC: HPV-related cancers rising but vaccination should help

Cancers linked to the human papillomavirus have increased significantly over the last 15 years—and so have vaccination rates for the virus.

More than 43,000 people developed HPV-associated cancer in 2015 compared to 30,000 in 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Throat cancer is the most common HPV-related cancer in the United States.

However, HPV vaccination rates are rising, the CDC said. The rate increased 5 percentage points for 13- to 17-year-olds between 2016 and 2017. About half of these teens did receive the recommended doses and about two-thirds received the first dose.

"This vaccine is the best way to protect our youth from developing cancers caused by HPV infection," Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the CDC, said in a statement. "Vaccination is the key to cervical cancer elimination."

If this trend continues it could eventually curb the increase in cancer cases, the CDC said. The agency believes the HPV vaccination could prevent more than 30,000 associated cancer cases every year.

Since the introduction of the vaccine a decade ago, HPV infections and cervical pre-cancers have fallen significantly. But experts said seeing the vaccine's benefits can take a long time because many cancers take several years to develop.