New Vaccine Prevents Cervical Cancer In Teens
Cervical Cancer Vaccine
New research reported in the June issue of Clinical Pediatrics suggests that the possibility of preventing cervical cancer and other cancers caused by the human papilloma viruses (HPVs) will be a reality in the near future. Two new vaccines, one developed by Merck (approved in June 2006) and one developed by Smith Glaxo Kline (likely to be approved soon), target types of HPV known to have a link to cervical and other cancers. The new vaccines prevented the disease or reduced infection in over 90% of cases and was well tolerated.
In the past 20 years, advances in cellular, molecular and immunologic technologies have contributed to the discovery of the link between HPV and cervical cancer. Two types, HPV 16 and HPV 18 account for the development of 70% of all cervical cancer cases. Other types of HPV cause other types of cancers, including some vulvar and vaginal cancers in women and penile cancers in men. Approximately 50% of all sexually active women are infected with one or more high risk HPV types, and by age 50 at least 80% of women will have acquired genital HPV infection. Approximately 74% of new HPV infections occurred among individuals 15-24 years old.
Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health developed a computer-based model of various cancer-prevention policies and their research suggests that the most cost-effective approach would be to administer the vaccine to young girls starting at the age of 11-12 with conventional pap smears for cervical abnormalities beginning at a later age and less frequently than currently recommended.. This model suggests that the absolute lifetime risk of cervical cancer would be reduced by 94 percent compared to no intervention at all.
"The possibility of preventing cervical cancer is both exciting and challenging," writes author Michael E Pichichero, MD, in the article. "HPV vaccination would produce health gains that would be worth the cost."