Primary Prevention with Cervical Cancer Vaccines

One of the most significant advances in the fight against cervical cancer is the development of HPV vaccines.  Early vaccination with regular screening, which includes a Pap test and HPV test when recommended according to current guidelines, is now the most effective way to prevent cervical cancer.

In June 2006, the first vaccine, known as a quadrivalent vaccine, was approved by the FDA for use in 9-26 year old women and girls.  In large clinical trials, the vaccine was found to be very effective in protecting women from developing pre-cancerous lesions of the cervix, vulva and vagina. More recently, this vaccine has been approved and recommended for boys.  A second vaccine, known as a bivalent vaccine, was approved by the FDA in October 2009 for girls and women only.

Both vaccines are administered as an injection, or shot, in a 3-dose series. Either HPV vaccine is routinely recommended for 11- or 12-year-old girls. The quadrivalent HPV vaccine is routinely recommended for 11- or 12-year-old boys. The vaccine series can be started beginning at age 9 years. Vaccination is also recommended for 13- through 26-year-old females and 13- through 26-year-old males who have not yet completed the vaccine series.

Ideally, girls and boys should be vaccinated before beginning sexual activity.  Studies show that the vaccines are extremely safe.  The most common side effects are redness and soreness where the shot was given, similar to other vaccines. Headaches (like when you have a cold or fever) are also common.  Fever can occur, but can be relieved with over the counter medications.

The vaccination should not be given to individuals who are acutely ill, who have a history of being allergic to yeast, or those who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant.

Spotlight

Visit the Sisterhood of Survivorship page to read “Dena’s Story” — by a vulvar cancer survivor who has shared her story and wise words, and channeled her energy into her National Race to End Women’s Cancer team.

Awareness

Vaccine efficacy against vulvar infection with HPV 16/18 was comparable to the efficacy found against cervical infection 4 years after vaccination, according to researchers with the National Cancer Institute.

Research

The Foundation has published its 2014-2015 Research Grants and Awards Booklet with Applications. Please consider applying to become part of an elite group of physician-scientists committed to the well-being of women at risk for/affected by gyn malignancies.

Education

The next Ovarian Cancer Survivors Course will be Saturday, July 26, 2014 in Boston. For more information on courses, click here.