WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — We often think of the risk of cancer as something that increases as we age. The fact is, cancer can strike children and young adults and there’s one cause of cancer affecting tens of thousands of young people that’s considered preventable.
That cancer is caused by HPV, or Human Papilloma Virus. And now, a longtime Hollywood actor and two-time cancer survivor is joining the fight against HPV.
“I’m Winston Zeddemore, your honor. I’ve only been with the company for a couple of weeks but I’ve got to tell you. These things are real.”
Actor Ernie Hudson shot to fame as one of the four-man ghost banishing band in the 1984 movie “Ghostbusters”.
In real life, the 74-year-old father of four is a two-time cancer survivor having overcome prostate and rectal cancer.
“Being a dad, I realized that I never want my children to go through that if there is anything I can do to prevent it or anything they can do.”
It’s why Hudson teamed up with the prevent cancer foundation and its campaign “Think about the link” which connects HPV to a half-dozen types of cancer that strike children as they grow older.
Hudson says, “The Human Papilloma Virus or HPV can cause six types of cancer. That’s why every parent needs to know there’s an HPV vaccine and it can stop cancer before it starts.”
Dr. Tina George, a family medicine physician, says, “The HPV vaccine is either a series of two or three shots depending on the age at which it’s administered.”
Typically first given when children are 11 or 12 years old, Dr. Tina George acknowledges some parents may have put those potentially life-saving vaccinations for their kids on hold because of the pandemic.
“At this point, most offices have made accommodations and are doing things to really protect patients. So, you can probably feel comfortable coming into your physician’s office at this time.”
It’s something Hudson urges families to do to help their kids avoid the avoidable.
Hudson says, “40,000 young people will be diagnosed with one of these forms of cancer and that can be prevented.”
Some children are able to pass HPV without complications, but there’s just no way of knowing who will or won’t develop cancer.