New Tool Could Drastically Cut Risk of Cervical, Other HPV-driven Cancers
In 2006, the FDA approved a vaccine against strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) that cause most cervical cancers. The vaccine, known as Gardasil, proved effective at stopping infection with the these two cancer-causing virus strains (HPV16 and HPV18). A similar vaccine, Cervarix, was approved soon after. The vaccines were initially approved only for use in young women and girls. But as research linked HPV to a host of other cancers – including those of the head, neck and anus – vaccination soon became recommended for young men and boys as well.
Today, cervical cancer is considered one of the most preventable cancers, in part because of this advance. Yet the potential impact of the vaccine and other prevention tools, including Pap tests, is far from being realized: every year, thousands of women in the prime of their lives are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and the disease remains one of the top cancer killers among women worldwide.
Recent research shows that in United States alone, almost half of young women and nearly two-thirds of young men remain unvaccinated.1 In developing countries, where most cervical cancer deaths occur, even greater efforts are needed to ensure access to this and other simple, life-saving prevention tools.
“This advance – if broadly adopted – could lead to the total eradication of cervical cancer globally as well as reduce or eliminate the growing numbers of esophageal and anal cancers. Millions could be saved.”
“If vaccine dissemination occurs, particularly in third world nations, the discovery that cervical cancer is primarily a viral-borne disease will be a life-saving finding for millions.”
“Prevention is the optimal advance!”
“This particular approach may be unique to virus-associated cancers, but the paradigm shift toward prevention is crucial for long-term gains in life span and quality of life.”