The BDA has welcomed reports that the government is preparing to commit to funding HPV vaccinations for boys.
The BDA has been a leading voice in the call for a gender neutral approach to the vaccinations, which are currently provided to school age girls as protection from cervical cancer. HPV has emerged as the leading cause of oral cancer, especially among young people, and rates are rising steeply overall. It is linked to 5% of all cancers worldwide, including some that affect only men.
Over the last decade, oral cancer incidence rates have increased by almost a quarter (23%) in the UK, making it one of the fastest rising types of cancer in the country, and it is increasing more rapidly among men than among women.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) had delayed offering concrete recommendations to ministers on a universal programme. They have received widespread criticism for questioning the cost effectiveness of vaccinating boys, based on unpublished, flawed and out of date modelling.
The BDA and fellow members of the HPV Action coalition are urgently seeking clarification on when the jabs will be offered. 15 countries are already vaccinating boys or plan to do so. These include Australia, Austria, Barbados, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Italy, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland and the United States of America.
BDA Chair Mick Armstrong said:
"Protecting boys from HPV would be a welcome sign that ministers are finally willing to walk the walk on prevention.
"Over 30 people in Britain are diagnosed with oral cancer every day, and dentists are often the first to spot the tell-tale signs. We now have an historic opportunity to protect all our children from the life changing and often fatal diseases HPV can cause.
"Dither and delay on gender neutral vaccination has cost lives. Health professionals are now looking to government for swift rollout of a national programme."
Oral cancer toolkit for dental health professionals
BDA's free oral cancer toolkit is designed to help dental health professionals to identify and refer possible cases of oral cancer, and was developed with Cancer Research UK.
Dentists and their teams have a vital role to play in ensuring oral cancers are detected early and patients are informed about the risk factors. With oral cancers, the key is spotting early on: early detection results in a roughly 90% survival rate, compared to a 50% survival rate for delayed diagnosis.