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Cervical Cancer Vaccine

Many cases of cervical cancer in women can now be prevented by a HPV vaccine.

Every year about 11,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and almost 4,000 die from the disease.  Two vaccines are available to prevent two types of human papillomavirus, which are responsible for most cases of cervical cancer, says Dr. Laurent Brard, associate professor of gynecological oncology at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.

SOUND BITE:  “Currently there are two vaccines that are offered in the United States.  One vaccine will immunize against two different strains.   One vaccine will immunize against two strains called HPV 16 and 18.  The other vaccine will immunize against four strains, HPV 6, 11, 16 and 18. ”

Dr. Brard says the vaccine prevents infection caused by HPV, but does not eradicate a cancer if an individual already has the cancer.  The vaccine does not eliminate the need for Pap screenings. Women who have been vaccinated will continue to need Pap tests.  He explains how the vaccine will be given.

SOUND BITE:    “It’s a series of shots for both vaccines that are available in the United States.  It’s a series of three shots, given at zero, one to two and six months.” “The current recommendation is for girls and women ages 9 to 26 and there is now a recommendation also for boys to get vaccinated as well.”

Dr. Brard says any woman wanting more information about the HPV vaccine for cervical cancer should check with her primary care physician or gynecologist.