Press Releases

Methodist Awarded Grant by American Cancer Society With Goal of Improving HPV Vaccination Rates

Published: Nov. 9, 2020

An estimated 44,000 cases of cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year in parts of the body where human papillomavirus (HPV) is often found. And HPV causes about 34,800 of those cancers. However, more than 90% of cancers caused by HPV can be prevented through vaccination. 

In an effort to raise awareness and improve vaccination rates, Methodist Health System has been selected to be a part of the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) Hospital System Capacity Building Initiative (HSCB) as a Communities of Practice (COP) site. The goal of the initiative is to engage health systems across the country to deepen partnerships and develop new and innovative ways to reach three goals: increasing HPV vaccination rates, addressing breast health equity and improving colorectal cancer screening rates.

Methodist is one of six HPV vaccination COP sites, and its participation is funded by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through 2023. In total, 21 health systems have been selected as COP sites, with Methodist being the first in Nebraska.

The announcement is the latest in Methodist’s efforts to educate patients, providers and our community about the importance of the HPV vaccine. Methodist’s selection grew out of a previous cooperative effort with the ACS championed by Aru Panwar, MD, a surgeon at the Head and Neck Surgical Oncology Clinic at Methodist Estabrook Cancer Center; and Matthew Gibson, MD, a Methodist Physicians Clinic pediatrician. That partnership sought to standardize HPV vaccination education across Methodist Health System. With the COP announcement, Methodist’s internal HPV Task Force and the ACS will take the next steps to promote community education and prevention strategies.

“Methodist is honored and excited to be chosen as a Communities of Practice site,” Dr. Panwar said. “There’s much work to be done, but this extended grant will help us continue to make a meaningful impact on our community by educating patients and preventing HPV-related cancers through vaccination.”

While anyone can be affected by cancer, statistics show that some minority populations and people who lack health insurance are more likely to develop cancer – and die from it – than the general U.S. population. The HSCB effort aims to address the unequal burden of cancer by reaching individuals in underserved communities. Through the initiative, Methodist will work with the ACS and community partners over the next three years to develop a collaborative action plan and create a community for COP sites to learn, share and create change. The initiative’s objectives include:

  • Increasing HPV vaccination rates
  • Partnering with local health partners to carry out evidence-based interventions
  • Securing leadership support for practice changes aimed at increasing cancer screenings and/or vaccinations in the target population
  • Assessing and sharing data relating to screening and/or vaccination rates
  • Creating a comprehensive, collaborative action plan with input from ACS hospital system staff and community partners
  • Creating a culture of team-based quality improvement
  • Assisting staff in prioritizing cancer screening and prevention
  • Executing sustainable and meaningful process improvements

To learn more about Methodist’s cancer care, specialists and clinical trials, visit To learn more about the American Cancer Society’s efforts to eliminate cancer, visit