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Should I get vaccinated against cervical cancer?

Q: I am a 35 years old married woman with two kids aged five and three years. Both of my deliveries were by C-Section but I didn’t have any other complication during the delivery or otherwise. After the second delivery, my doctor advised me to take a vaccine for cervical cancer. Do you think this vaccine is required given my age, lifestyle etc?

A:From the details you have provided, you do not seem to be at high risk for cervical cancer. If you are certain that your spouse and you are practicing safe sex, there is no need for you to take the vaccine. However, you should continue with yearly Pap smear. If 3 consecutive Pap smears are "normal", you can have Pap smear screening once every 3 years, along with high-risk HPV DNA testing (by HC2 method). As of now, the HPV vaccine has been proven to be effective for 5 years; ongoing studies have to establish whether or not a booster is required, and when etc. Also, as of now, the vaccine is only against 2 of the HPV strains (that account for 70% of the cervical cancers); hence, you would still require screening with Pap smear, even if you take the vaccine.

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