Friday, January 23rd at 10:00 a.m.
Cancer - it's a scary diagnosis. But what if a shot could protect you from cancer?
If it's cervical cancer, there is a vaccine that can protect against the virus that's behind many cases of the disease. It's the HPV vaccine - the vaccine that protects agains human papillomavirus or HPV, the most common sexually transmitted virus in the United States.
About 14 million Americans, including teens, become infected with HPV each year. It can be hard to detect, so many people never even know they have it.
Many types of HPV infection cause no symptoms. For some types of HPV, the most visible symptoms are genital warts. The virus can increase your risk for cancer of the cervix or genitals. It is also known to cause anal and mouth/throat cancers.
HPV is most common in women and men in their late teens and early 20s. HPV is so common that at least 50 percent of sexually active men and women get it at some point in their lives. However, doctors believe vaccination can change those numbers. The HPV vaccine is given as a series of shots to teen girls and boys before they become sexually active.
In December 2014, a new vaccine received FDA approval. Gardisil 9 provides expanded protection against HPV, helping shield those vaccinated against nine strains of the virus, including two viruses known to cause 90 percent of genital warts. (Gardisil, approved in 2006, protected against 4 strains of HPV.) Cervarix is the other HPV vaccine in use today. It was approved by the FDA in 2009 and also protects women from HPV infections. It protects against the 2 types of the HPV virus that cause most cervical cancers.
"Gardasil 9 has the potential to prevent approximately 90 percent of cervical, vulvar, vaginal and anal cancers," the FDA said in an agency news release.
The HPV vaccines are administered as a series of 3 injections over a 6-month period. For the vaccines to be effective, one of them should be given before the person becomes sexually active or is exposed to HPV.
While the vaccines can help prevent HPV infection, they do not treat existing HPV infections.
According to the CDC, the HPV vaccine is recommended for 11- and 12-year-old girls. The vaccines also can be given to girls and women ages 13 through 26 who did not get the vaccine when they were younger or who did not complete the vaccination series. Gardasil can also be given to boys between the ages of 9 and 26 and may be started during one of their preteen checkups.
To learn more about the HPV, the HPV vaccines and cervical cancer, join us for OU Medicine’s Live Chat this Friday, January 23rd at 10 a.m. with Dr. Joan Walker, a gynecologic oncologist with the Stephenson Cancer Center.
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