With the increasing awareness, many people are aware of the cervical cancer vaccine. Administration of cervical cancer vaccine prior to sexual activity is associated with a better outcome.
No permanent cure or vaccines to prevent cancer have been developed even in this technological and medically advanced world. Due to this, cancer has been threatening human lives for centuries. Thankfully, a vaccine to prevent cervical cancer has been developed with which numerous women’s lives worldwide can be saved from cancer.
Most people in the world practice sex from their reproductive ages, and simultaneously, the incidence of sexually transmitted infections and diseases also occur. Similar to cancer, certain STDs like HIV/AIDS (human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) also do not have a permanent cure.
Certain STIs are known to increase the risk of cancer, especially in women, and one such infection is the HPV (human papillomavirus) infection. The human papillomavirus causes the HPV (human papillomavirus) infection. It is the second most common cancer affecting women worldwide, and HPV-related cervical cancer is the leading cancer affecting Indian women.
More than 200 types of viruses constitute HPV, out of which 40 of them are known to spread via sexual contact. Among the 40, two types of HPV cause genital warts, and nearly twelve types elevate the risk of cancer. Acquiring human papillomavirus infection does not necessarily develop into cancer in everyone. But when it occurs, it can cause cancer in the following regions:
There are four types of HPV viruses, which this vaccine targets. Administering these vaccines in women, who have commenced sexual activity, will still give protection from the virus strain she has not acquired. The same benefit can be expected in men having sexual activity with another male, rendering protection from anal warts and cancers. The vaccine is suggested even if a monogamous (only single partner) relationship is maintained. The HPV vaccine reduces the risk of genital warts, anal cancers, and cancer of the head, neck, mouth, and throat in both men and women.
Children Aged 9 and Above - All children aged 9 or above can get the HPV vaccination which renders maximum protection as the chances of HPV exposure is minimum to no.
Adults Aged 26 and Above - The HPV vaccine is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in adults aged 26 and above till 45 years of age. But clinicians feel that the maximum benefit of this vaccine could not be achieved in this population as most of them would already have been exposed to the virus. Considering the chances of exposure, one can get vaccinated.
Theoretically, vaccinating the male population against the cancer-causing HPV types decreases the transmission of the virus to females (or males) and reduces the risk of cancer.
Human cervical cancer is greatly associated with HPV (human papillomavirus) infection. It is essential that the vaccine is administered before the infection is acquired. As this infection is acquired during sexual activity, it is best to be administered before the start of sexual activity that is primarily teenage girls. With the increasing awareness, many people are aware of the cancer vaccine. However, presently only a cervical cancer vaccine is available. Also, a prostate cancer vaccine is available, but only for treatment purposes. The general population can utilize it without disease for the prevention of cervical cancer. However, the correct timing of vaccination is essential.
Though CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends all boys and girls of age 11 and 12 get vaccinated for HPV infection, it can also be taken as early as nine years of age. The vaccine’s efficacy and response against HPV infection are better at a young age and before HPV exposure.
Two-dose schedules are recommended for children under 15 years of age, and for those above 15 years of age, three-dose schedules are recommended.
There are two types of vaccines available, targeting four strains 6, 11, 16, and 18 of the virus, respectively. It is worthwhile to be taken. The FDA has licensed and CDC has recommended two HPV vaccines. They are,
Cervarix (by GlaxoSmithKline).
Gardasil (by Merck).
This vaccine does not prevent other sexually transmittable diseases; hence barrier protection like condoms have to be utilized where indicated. Considering the effectiveness of this vaccine in the range of 90% and above, it is highly suggested to get it administered in the indicated population.
Side effects are minimal such as flu-like symptoms and local pain, which are similar to other vaccines and self-limiting. Some common and mild side effects include,
Pain at the site of injection with or without swelling.
It is usually advised to remain seated for 15 minutes after getting vaccinated.
People with an allergy to the previous HPV vaccine shot.
People who are moderately or severely ill.
People allergic to the vaccine’s components.
Though HPV infection is the leading cause of cervical cancer in women, chances of cervical cancer in women without HPV infection are also present.
All women aged 21 years and above should undergo a cervical cancer screening test. And it should be taken once every three years. Additionally, an HPV test should also be taken once every three times from 30 to 65 years of age.
Smoking should be stopped.
Getting vaccinated for HPV does not protect you from other sexually transmitted infections for which you need to use physical contraceptive barriers such as condoms. These vaccines can greatly minimize the incidence of cervical cancer due to HPV. Talk to your doctor, discuss your sexual health, and get vaccinated. We also encourage you to get your children vaccinated.
Last reviewed at:
16 Dec 2021 - 4 min read
Query: Hello doctor, A few months ago, a doctor told me that I had a genital wart. It looked like a flat mole to me. Eventually, it was removed. I want to know if this brown spot I developed recently is also a wart or a symptom of HPV. Read Full »
Query: Hi doctor, My child has a wound in his inner part of the foot. He is 3.6 years old. He is saying that a puppy bites him and also says injured from stone. We are confused and visited a doctor. He advised us to four doses of injection. Will it cause any side effect when there is no dog bite? Read Full »
Query: Hi doctor, I am getting facial warts again and again at the same place. I go for swimming every day. Is it because of that? I have undergone laser treatment twice and it went away with it. Now, again I have the same problem. What should I do? Is there anything that I can apply as I do not want to ... Read Full »
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