Frequent Human papilloma virus, or HPV, is a major vehicle for abnormal cells to grow on the cervix which can evolve into cervical cancer. The cervix is the womb or the bottom portion of the uterus. One of the main recourses in preventing the abnormal cells from going unnoticed for many years is regular Pap tests. HPV vaccine can also help to prevent the development of these infections with specific types of the human papillomavirus. This cervical cancer vaccine has been found to prevent one of the largest risks of the disease, HPV 16 and 18. These vaccines are able to help prevent around 70% of cervical cancer.
What Cervical Cancer Vaccines Are Available?
There are two major types of HPV that are responsible for spreading most cases of cervical cancer through sexual contact. There are two different vaccines that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Cervarix is the vaccine for girls and Gardasil is for both boys and girls. If it is given to a girl before she is ever exposed to HPV, the vaccine can usually prevent the transmission of cervical cancer. Both vaccines are able to prevent vulvar and vaginal cancer, but Gardasil is also able to keep women and men from getting anal cancer and genital warts. The point is to keep the virus from spreading through men by vaccinating them as well.
When to Get Cervical Cancer Vaccines
The vaccine works much better for young people rather than older people. So with regards to getting cervical cancer vaccines the younger the better, generally between 11 and 12 years of age. The vaccine can be given to boys and girls as young as 9 years old and it is recommended that the boys and girls get the vaccine before they actually engage in sex and have had a chance to be in contact with HPV. The vaccine may not work if the young person has already been infected with the virus.
Even though the first of the three doses is recommended for those aged 11 to 12, it should still be given to women by the time they are 25 and for men by the time they are 21. Men can still get the vaccine up until 26 if they choose.
Duration: The vaccines are given over 6 months as a 3 injection treatment. After the first dose the second is give up to 2 months later and the third up to 6 months after the first.
There are people who should not get the cervical cancer vaccine: those who are pregnant; those severely or moderately ill; those with an allergy to latex or yeast; and those who are allergic to the vaccine or any part of the vaccine.
How Effective Are Cervical Cancer Vaccines?
The vaccines are highly effective because they are able to target the types of HPV that cause the cervical cancer as well as other types of cancer as well, such as cancer of the anus, vulva, vagina, and oropharynx.
- Research has suggested that once the vaccine has been given, it can provide protection up to 10 years with no compromise regarding its effectiveness.
- The cervical cancer vaccines are not as effective or might have no effect on existing infections or associated diseases.
- The vaccines should never replace Pap tests which is one of the most reliable forms of HPV detection.
Are There Any Side Effects of Cervical Cancer Vaccines?
The side effects of cervical cancer vaccines are minor, which mainly include soreness on the arm where the injection was performed, low grade fever, and headaches. Fainting and dizziness can occur after the injection has been administered but the risk of fainting can be diminished by staying seated for up to 15 minutes after getting the shot. The Cervarix vaccine may also result in vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal pain.
Other Ways of Preventing Cervical Cancer
While the cervical cancer vaccine is one of the most effective ways of preventing cervical cancer, there are other things you can do to limit your chances of contracting the virus. They include:
- Put off having sex as long as you can.
- Don't have sex with an unlimited number of sexual partners or with someone who has many sexual partners.
- Don't rely on condoms to provide protection as this virus can be transmitted by exposure to the skin or other areas that have been exposed.
- Stop smoking as it compromises your immune system and its byproducts have been found in specimens of cervical cancer.
- Have a Pap test every three years beginning when the woman is 21 years old.
- Combine your Pap test with your HPV test from 30 years of age to 65. This can almost double the interval between screenings from 3 years to 5.
- Keep getting screenings for up to 20 years after you have had a history of an advanced precancerous diagnosis.
Know the severity of cervical cancer, what the cancer is, how it is transmitted and how to deal with it via vaccine, Pap smear and surgery through a real life story: