• Reflex: October 26, 2011

    CDC committee recommends boys receive HPV vaccine, reports Jennifer Bixler. “A federal government advisory committee voted Tuesday to recommend that males ages 11 to 21 be vaccinated against the human papilloma virus, which is blamed for thousands of cases of cancer among women and men.” The vaccine is 89% effective against genital warts and 75% effective against anal cancer in males. Aaron’s Comment: This is going to be controversial for the same reasons vaccinating adolescent girls against an STD is. But vaccinating all males 11-21 would cost $38 million. That’s chump change in the health care world.

    N.C. doctors say prostate tests will go on, writes Jay Price. Physicians in the state seem to say they will continue their use of the PSA regardless of any change in recommendations.  Don’s comment: The most important questions to ask about any sort of screeing test or medical intervention is what are the costs and the benefits, typically focusing on life extension, quality of life and economic costs. In reality, I think there is little evidence that once something is typically done in medical practice (prostate screening, mammography) that it will be stopped. Likewise, new things like HPV vaccine are hard to uptake. As an aside, my 14 year old son got the HPV vaccine when he was 12 because his pediatrician told us that he should. 

     

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    • I’m always really interested in preventive strategies saving money. Of course, saving lives is a much better reason to promote prevention, but unfortunately prevention doesn’t always ‘pay for itself’ when cost-effectiveness is rigorously examined.

      So in the HPV vaccine we have an example of something that isn’t cheap, but by healthcare standards isn’t super expensive either, and prevents several forms of cancer that occur in young people. So of all things this should ‘save money.’ Does anyone know if that has been examined for the HPV vaccine?