A vaccine to prevent cervical cancer, precancerous genital lesions and genital warts due to human papillomavirus (HPV) is now available. The vaccine is highly effective against four types of HPV, including two that are responsible for about 70 percent of cervical cancer.
According to Women’s Care physician Audrey Garrett, MD, MPH, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recommended that, in order to obtain full benefit from the vaccination, girls and women should be vaccinated before they become sexually active, i.e., before they’re exposed to the viruses. However, since girls and women may obtain some benefit even after they have become sexually active, the CDC recommends the vaccination for girls and women aged 13 to 26.
“This vaccine represents a historic milestone in women’s health,” says Dr. Garrett. “Those who have not acquired HPV would get the full benefits of the vaccine.” She notes that on average, there are 500,000 new cases of cervical cancer in the world each year. In the U.S. there are an average of 10,000 new cases and 4,000 deaths from cervical cancer annually.
Dr. Garrett suggests that adult women speak to pediatricians about vaccinations for their daughters and to their gynecologist or primary care physician about the vaccination for themselves.
More information about the CDC’s recommendations is available at www.cdc.gov.