Cervical Cancer Vaccine
The Cervical Cancer Vaccine is more commonly known as the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. According to the CDC, about 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year in the U.S. The HPV vaccine is important because HPV is a common virus that is sexually transmitted and affects most sexually active people at some point in their lives. There are around 40 different genital types of HPV that can affect both men and women. Although some strains of HPV may never cause symptoms or progress into something more serious, some HPV types can lead to different cancer types, such as cervical cancer or cancer of the anus, penis, vagina, vulva, and oropharynx (throat).
What are the Benefits of the Cervical Cancer Vaccine?
The most important benefit from the Cervical Cancer or HPV vaccine is that it protects against cervical cancer and other types of cancer that can be caused by certain HPV types.
The two vaccines that are currently on the market are Gardasil and Cervarix; these, however, don’t protect against all types of HPV that may cause cancer. The vaccines protect against the following types:
- HPV 11
- HPV 16
- HPV 17
These specific HPV types are responsible for 70% of all cervical cancer cases and 90% of genital warts, which means that the vaccine significantly decreases the chances of contracting a cervical cancer-causing HPV strain.
When Should You Receive the Cervical Cancer Vaccine?
The vaccine is most effective before being exposed to any type of HPV virus. The CDC recommends that girls between the ages of 11 and 12 are vaccinated, or before becoming sexually active in order to provide the most effectiveness. It is recommended for women up to the age of 26, since research has shown that there is little to no effect in vaccinating women over this age. The best preventative measure against cervical cancer for women over the age of 26 is to get routine cervical cancer screenings.
How Does the Cervical Cancer Vaccine Work?
The cervical cancer or HPV vaccine works by creating antibodies that recognize HPV virus cells when they enter the body and attach themselves to prevent healthy cells from getting infected.
The vaccines are created with virus-like particles that are produced by HPV surface components; however, they lack HPV’s DNA, which makes them non-infectious.
The vaccine still does not protect from other STD’s of existing HPV infections, which is why it is important to get the vaccine at the proper age for maximum effectiveness and to take other preventative measures available.
What Are Other Preventions Against Cervical Cancer?
Some other preventative options against cervical cancer involve getting routine cervical cancer screenings, such as a Pap smear and HPV screening, and following up on these results. Pap smears detect any changes in the cells of the cervix before they are pre-cancerous, which allows for a better chance of identifying the cancer in its early stages or before it turns into cancer at all for early treatment and prevention. Screening also helps detect most cervical cancers in their early stages.
It is important to know that most cervical cancer patients are women who were never screened or have not been screened for over five years.