Human papillovirus (HPV) is the cause of the majority of cervical cancers. HPV is an infection transmitted through sexual contact. Two cervical cancer vaccines have been developed that it is hoped will reduce the number of worldwide cases of cervical cancer. The name of the two vaccines approved for use is Gardasil and Cervarix. This raises the questions of how exactly does the vaccine work, who should take the vaccine, what are the side effects? The following information will consider the answer to those questions.
First, there is little difference between the two type of drugs used as vaccine for cervical cancer. Gardasil protects women against four different types of HPV; two of them cause 75% of cervical cancers. This drug also prevents other cancers such as vaginal cancer and vulvar cancer. Cervarix protects women against two different types of HPV; these two types cause 70% of all cervical cancer diagnoses. This drug will also help to prevent other cancers such as vaginal cancer and vulvar cancer.
How does the vaccine work?
Specific types of HPV are responsible for causing various cancers including cervical cancer. The two cervical cancer vaccines are designed to protect women. The highest protection comes from receiving the vaccine before being exposed to HPV. The vaccines are designed to help the woman’s body produce antibodies for the virus. Doctors are not sure what levels of antibodies will provide the most protection. So they recommend a series of three injections to be given over a six month period. This may be adjusted as more observation and research is done to determine what offers the best health benefit.
Who should take the vaccine?
The HPV vaccine is recommended for girls and boys between the ages of 11 and 12. Since HPV is contracted through sexual contact, it is best to be given the vaccine before any sexual activity; this will increase the effectiveness of the vaccine. However if the person has passed the age of 12, the vaccine can be given to women up to the age of 26 and men up to the age of 21.
What are the side effects?
For most people the side effects are minimal. The vaccine is given in the upper arm, so there could be resulting soreness in that area. Also noticed in recipients have been headaches, fever, and mild flu symptoms. In rare cases, the side effects have been very serious such as an extreme allergic reaction, paralysis, and swelling of the brain.
If a person is already sexually active, there are still benefits in receiving the vaccine. A doctor will be able to give more information for an individual’s specific concerns. However the greatest benefit will come to those who receive the vaccine before sexual intercourse.
The fact is that over 12,000 women may be diagnosed with cervical cancer in one year. No woman wants to be included in that number. Many have decided that the vaccine is right for them. Mothers have looked at the benefits of the cervical cancer vaccine for their children. Hopefully as more and more people receive the vaccine the number of cases of cervical cancer will decrease.