Cardiff dad diagnosed with neck cancer urges boys to get HPV vaccine

  • ITV Wales correspondent Richard Morgan reports from Cardiff.

A father of two who received treatment for head and neck cancer is urging boys to get vaccinated against HPV if they are eligible.

David Edwards, from Cardiff, was diagnosed with a cancerous tumour near his tonsils and tongue in 2022.

The 58-year-old originally went to the doctor for a suspected hernia, but before he left asked about a small lump he'd noticed on the underside of his jaw.

Around the time of his biopsy, he tested positive for HPV 16, an HPV type known to increase the risk of cancer.

He says this came as a "complete surprise".

"My awareness of HPV prior was to do with cervical cancer in women," said David

"I was completely unaware that you could have a virus that could lead to cancer."

Although he's now had the all-clear and is cancer-free, he still has to live with the after-effects of his radiotherapy.

"Day to day I have to manage my diet, keep my mouth moist because I have a very dry mouth and it's an ongoing challenge."

He's now encouraging young men and boys to get their vaccine.

"It's kind of a no-brainer that if it's being offered to boys they should take it because it would prevent somebody going through what I'm going through."

HPV stands for Human Papillomavirus, and is the name given to a group of common viruses that affect the skin.

There are more than 100 types of this virus and more than eight in ten people who have not received the HPV vaccine will catch it at some point in their lives.

In most cases, it's harmless, but certain types can lead to cancers.

Since 2008, all girls in Wales have been offered an HPV vaccine in school to prevent cervical cancer.

Since then, rates of cervical cancer have reduced by almost 90% in women in their 20s who were offered the vaccine at 12 to 13 years of age.

But in the school year 2019-2020, the rules changed and boys were also offered the vaccine for the first time.

Vaccines are given to children in schools in Year 8, or when they're 12-13 years old.

Vaccination begins around the start of the spring term in January, and continues until the end of the spring term. Parents will be informed of their child's school's vaccination programme and asked for permission beforehand.

Who else can get a vaccine?

Young people who have missed their HPV vaccination when it was offered up until their 25thbirthday if they are a girl, or boys born after 1 September 2006

Gay, bisexual, and men who have sex with men up to the age of 45

Chris Johnson from the vaccine-preventable diseases programme at Public Health Wales says the HPV Vaccine is "one of the most effective vaccines that we have in our toolbox."

"The vaccination program has almost eliminated cervical cancer in women in their twenties, and we stand a really good chance of having an impact on a range of cancers for women and for men."

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