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Vaccines prevent cervical cancer

Vaccines designed to prevent infection of the human papilloma virus (HPV) offer no benefit to those who are already infected.

Vaccines prevent cervical cancer

Vaccines designed to prevent infection of the human papilloma virus (HPV) offer no benefit to those who are already infected. Cervical cancer is the second most common type of cancer in women and the leading cause of cancer deaths. With the arrival of 2 new HPV vaccines – Gardasil and Cervarix, the link between the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer has come into more focus. HPV vaccines target certain sexually transmitted strains of human papillomavirus that are associated with the development of cervical cancer and genital warts. Gardasil and Cervarix protect against HPV strains 16 and 18 that cause about 70 percent of cervical cancers. Gardasil also protects against HPV strains 6 and 11, which together cause about 90% of all cases of genital warts. These HPV vaccines are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in US for women who are 9 to 25 years old and have not contracted HPV. To test the efficacy of these vaccines in preventing HPV, researchers at the National Cancer Institute, in US, studied the effect of Cervarix in two provinces of Costa Rica that included 2,189 women aged 18 to 25 who were positive for HPV infection. They found the vaccine showed no sign of clearing the infection any faster than a placebo. The results point to the fact that these vaccines are preventive and not intended to treat HPV infections. And that one should not get these vaccines to treat an existing infection. They also underscore the need for early vaccination. In addition to these preventive vaccines, laboratory research and several human clinical trials are focused on the development of therapeutic HPV vaccines.
The Journal of American Medical Association,
August 2007
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