Vaccinations – Not Just for Kids, Adults Need Them Too!

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital August 5, 2014

Immunity against some diseases can gradually fade away over the years.

Adults who have never received childhood vaccinations can have serious complications from diseases such as the flu, pertussis, or pneumonia. And for adults who did receive all the recommended vaccines as children, immunity against some diseases can gradually fade away over the years, meaning that booster shots are needed.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults (19 to 65+ years) receive the following vaccines:

Pneumococcal (pneumonia) vaccine

This vaccine protects against serious infections caused by bacteria called Streptococcus pneumoniae. Anyone can get pneumococcal disease, but certain people are at risk for complications. You should get the pneumonia vaccine if you are 65 or older. If you are younger than 65, you should get this shot if you have a chronic illness, such as diabetes, heart or lung diseases, sickle cell disease, alcoholism, or cirrhosis. Other people who should get this shot are people with a weakened immune system, such as those with kidney failure, a damaged spleen or no spleen, HIV/AIDS, certain types of cancer, or those who smoke.

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Getting to the Root of Cervical Cancer

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital October 23, 2012

Christopher Crum, MD, looks at a microscopic view of the squamo-columnar junction cells (in red) in the cervix.

HPV, or human papillomavirus, is a stealthy virus, often going unnoticed and causing no symptoms. Most sexually-active adults have been exposed to HPV, the culprit in almost all cases of cervical cancer and a virus implicated in many other cancers as well.

Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), Harvard Medical School (HMS) and the Agency for Science Technology and Research in Singapore (ASTAR) recently made an important discovery with the potential to change the way women with HPV are treated.

“We uncovered a discrete group of cells in a specific area of the cervix that could be responsible for most, if not all, HPV-associated cervical cancers,” says Dr. Christopher Crum, Director of Women’s and Perinatal Pathology at BWH.

Dr. Crum and his colleagues, including Dr. Wa Xian of the BWH Department of Pathology and ASTAR, Dr. Frank McKeon of HMS and the Genome Institute of Singapore, and Dr. Michael Herfs, a visiting fellow from the University of Liège, discovered that a population of cells found only in the squamo-columnar junction (located between the part of the cervix that opens to the vagina and the part that opens to the uterus) has the potential of becoming cancerous when infected with HPV, while cells located elsewhere in the cervix do not.

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A Virus that Causes Cancer?

Posted by Blog Administrator March 9, 2012

Couple Concerned about HPV

HPV can lead to cervical, head and neck, and other cancers in men and women.

Yes, viruses are implicated in cancer, and there is one particular virus that can lead to the development of more than half a dozen different types of cancers among men and women. What’s more, the majority of sexually active adults have been exposed to it. Human papillomavirus (HPV), which is transmitted during sexual activity (including oral sex), is associated with cervical, anal, penile, vaginal, vulvar, and head and neck cancers, and HPV-related cancers are on the rise.

“We are seeing many new cases of HPV-related cancer among young and otherwise healthy adults,” said Dr. Robert Haddad, Director of the Head and Neck Oncology Center at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center.

New clinical trials led by specialists in the Head and Neck Oncology Center are available for people with HPV-related head and neck cancers. There is no HPV screening in men, but women can be tested for certain strains of HPV and should undergo Pap tests to screen for cervical cancer – which is almost always caused by HPV. Both men and women should have regular annual physical exams and discuss any concerning changes with their doctor. Treatment for HPV-related cancers, like other cancers, is most effective when cancers are caught early, so it also is important to recognize cancer symptoms.

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