Skip to main content

Our Community Focus

A Vaccine for Cancer is HERE By Gig Chen, MD

Jan 29, 2017 10:37PM ● By Elena Hutslar

Gigi Chen, MD

This year, the California Department of Public Health is holding a preteen vaccine week, February 12 through 18. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that 11 and 12 year olds have the Tdap (required), Meningococcal, Influenza, Chickenpox, and HPV vaccines before entering into 7th grade.

As a medical oncologist I encourage all parents to view the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine as a requirement, rather than a suggestion. It is true for all cancers that early detection is crucial. HPV is the primary cause of cervical and anal cancer, making it pertinent for both girls and boys to be protected.


Furthermore, certain types of HPV are called “high-risk types” because they are strongly linked to cancers, including cancer of the cervix, vulva, and vagina in women, penile cancer in men, and anal and oral cancer in both men and women. Infection with HPV is common, and in most people the body is able to clear the infection on its own. Sometimes, however, the infection does not go away and becomes chronic. It is the chronic infection that can lead to the development of cancers. All that is needed to pass HPV from one person to another is skin-to-skin contact with an area of the body infected with HPV. While this usually means transmission during intercourse, it is not the only rule.


As all other vaccines, the HPV vaccine has been carefully studied. While there are mild side effects such as fever, dizziness or fainting when given to preteens and teens, serious side effects are rare. Always tell your child’s physician if your teen has any severe allergies or is pregnant.


Gigi Chen, MD is a Medical Oncologist and Hematologist with Diablo Valley Oncology.  She has extensive experience in treating all types of cancer, with a special interest in lung and gynecologic cancers.  She sees patients in Pleasant Hill, Rossmoor and San Ramon. To contact Dr. Chen, please call 925-677-5041 or visit