2007-05-04 / Community

SJEH Doc Touts New Vaccine For Cervical Cancer

A vaccine considered highly effective in preventing infections that cause cervical cancer in women has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Advisory Committee. The vaccine is administered to girls and women between the ages of nine and 26 years of age.

"This is a very important medical breakthrough because it is the first vaccine ever against cervical cancer," said Jerald Korman, MD, Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics/ Gynecology at St. John's Episcopal Hospital. "This vaccine will save women's lives and addresses a major women's health problem," he added. Nearly 3,700 women die of cervical cancer in the US each year, according to American Cancer Society statistics.

The vaccine against the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection, is highly effective. It provides nearly perfect protection against two strains of HPV that are the cause of 70 percent of cervical cancer cases and two additional strains that are the cause of 90 percent of cases of genital warts.

The vaccine, Gardasil, is given as a three-dose series, completed over six months. Gardasil can be started as early as age nine and can also be given to women 13 to 26 years old. The vaccine is licensed by the FDA as safe and effective.

It has been tested in thousands of women (ages nine to 26 years old) around the world. These studies have shown no serious side effects. The most common side effect is brief soreness at the injection site.

Manufactured by Merck, the vaccine may not fully protect everyone and does not prevent all types of cervical cancer, so it is important for women to continue to get screened regularly for cervical cancer.

To date, it is unknown if the vaccine is effective in boys or men.

Studies are now being done to determine if the vaccine works to prevent HPV infection and disease in males.

For more information about the HPV vaccine, please contact the Obstetrics/Gynecology Department at St. John's Episcopal Hospital at 718-869-7382.

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