Cervical Cancer Vaccine

By: Jessica Aspiras
By: Jessica Aspiras

"It would be great to take a medicine and eradicate an entire disease process by offering a vaccine."

According to the American Cancer, this year close to 10,000 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer. And of those, roughly 4,000 will die. World-wide the number jumps to about 300,000. But if a new vaccine is approved, manufacturers Merck and Company say the numbers could drop by two-thirds. Sparrow Hospital Gynecological Oncologist, Dr. Joseph Meunier, agrees.

"By removing HPV, by preventing HPV infections in women, you are preventing cancer. So whether you call it an HPV prevention or cancer prevention, it's one in the same."

Two types of the sexually transmitted disease, Human Papillomavirus, are responsible for cervical cancer. Recently an FDA advisory panel recommended the approval of Gardasil, a vaccine against HPV. And it's suggested for girls ages nine-26.

"When you give vaccines to younger people, especially children, you're more likely to get a better response to the vaccine."

However, there's some concern that a vaccine geared towards preventing cervical cancer and ultimately thwarting off an STD, will encourage young girls to have sex. Dr. Meunier doesn't think so.

"If you get a measles vaccine, you don't go looking for measles. So I don't see how getting an HPV vaccine would cause someone to go out and be more sexually active than they are."

Still if approved, Gardasil won't be the number one choice in cervical cancer prevention. That spot would be left to a woman's annual PAP smear.

The FDA is expected to make a decision about the vaccine by June 8. The cost would be about $300-$500 for a series of three shots.


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