Cervical Cancer & HPV Vaccination | Dr. Sonal Dhande | Cancer Specialist | MOC Nashik
In my previous blog, I tried eliciting the character of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) & its implications in development of cervical cancer. Immunization / Vaccination as a preventive measure is available which can offer validated protection from Cervical Cancer. In this blog, I shall attempt elaborating on the protection from HPV.
Presently, two HPV vaccines are available in India. These two vaccines protect against different types of HPV:
- Gardasil helps to prevent infection with four HPV types (6, 11, 16, and 18).
- Cervarix helps to prevent infection with HPV types 16 and 18.
HPV Vaccine Timings and Doses:
All of the HPV vaccines are given by injection. Dosing depends upon age and the present state of immunity of an individual.
- if subject is younger than 15 years of age with normal immune function, she should get two injections at least six months apart.
- If subject is 15 years of age or older with normal immune function, she should get three injections. The second dose is given one to two months after the first, and the third dose is given six months after the first.
- If subject have an infection with HIV or she is immunocompromised (eg, have another health condition that weakens subject's immune system), she should get three injections regardless of the age at which she may start the vaccination series
It is best to get all the recommended doses. If one misses a dose, taking advise from the healthcare provider / doctor about the number of doses required is recommended.
Who should be vaccinated?
HPV vaccination should ideally be done for all girls ages 11 to 12 years, and it can be given as early as 9 years of age. "Catch-up" vaccination is recommended for all females up to 26 years of age who have not yet received it. The decision to vaccinate adults in this age group should be individualized, typically in conversation with a healthcare provider, as some people in this age group may still benefit from it.
With any HPV vaccine, receiver will have the greatest protection from HPV if she is vaccinated before becoming sexually active. The vaccine does not help to get rid of HPV infection or any cervical abnormality after it has occurred. However, if you are under 26 years old and you have been sexually active, had genital warts, a positive HPV test, or an abnormal Pap test, you may still obtain some (although smaller) benefit from the HPV vaccine.
It is important to keep in mind that the vaccine works best if given before sexual activity begins (even many years before). Sometimes, parents are hesitant to get their children vaccinated. Some people worry that it will lead to children becoming sexually active earlier than they otherwise would. However, there is no evidence that it happens.
Some also worry that the vaccine may have serious side effects, but studies have clearly shown that the available HPV vaccines are safe.
How long are you protected?
While experts do not know exactly how long the vaccine protects against HPV infection, there has been no evidence to suggest that the HPV vaccine loses any ability to provide protection over time.
Is cervical cancer screening needed after vaccination?
You do not need to have a pelvic exam or test for cervical cancer (eg, Pap and/or HPV test) before you have the HPV vaccine. Regular cervical cancer screening can begin in females at age 21.
Getting the HPV vaccine does not nullify the need of cervical cancer screening in the future, as the vaccine does not eliminate infections acquired prior to vaccination. In addition, other types of high-risk HPV, which are not prevented by the vaccine, can also cause cervical cancer.
How effective is the Vaccine?
Studies have shown that:
- HPV vaccination in females is very effective in preventing HPV infections and cervical pre-cancers caused by HPV types targeted by the vaccine.
- HPV vaccination in females reduces the risk of genital warts in their male sexual partners.
- HPV vaccination in males reduces the risk of developing genital warts and penile HPV infection, which may decrease the spread of HPV to sexual partners.
Consultation of a Gynecologist or Oncologist (Cancer Specialist) is highly recommended for enquiries related to the vaccination.
You can also read my previous blog on HPV & Cervical Cancer (HPV & Cervical Cancer | Dr. Sonal Dhande | Cancer Specialist | MOC Nashik)
Dr. Sonal Dhande
Consultant Cancer Specialist
Hope-Mumbai Oncocare Centre, Nashik