Can vaccination really prevent cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer vaccine'What is the cervical cancer vaccine? Can anyone be vaccinated? What is its purpose? Can this vaccine cause any harm to me?' These are some of the common queries that may come to your mind when you first hear of the 'cervical cancer vaccine'. Here are some answers to those queries.

What is cervical cancer vaccine and how does it work?

Cervical cancer vaccine is essentially an HPV immunisation that supposedly works by preventing HPV from transmitting the disease.

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Most of us know that cervical cancer usually develops on account of infection with the human papilloma virus (HPV), which is spread through skin contact during any kind of sexual intercourse. There are various forms of HPV which are responsible for the development of cervical cancer. Of these, vaccines have been made against two of the highest risk forms of HPV and have been approved by Food and Drug administration (FDA), United States. These vaccines are Gardasil and Cervarix. Gardesil is recommended for both sexes while Cervarix is recommended only for women.

These vaccines have been found to be effective in providing protection against cervical cancer, by preventing HPV infection, which is the primary cause of cervical cancer. Additionally, they are also supposed to have a promising effect in lowering the risks of other forms of cancer like anal, vaginal, vulvar and penile.

Who needs it?

Though this vaccine has gained popularity in several countries, it is not so popular in India. This vaccine can be given to men and women of a younger age group before they become sexually active. The vaccine can also be administered to older adults though, even if you're well past your teens. However, the HPV vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women, persons having ill health or those who suffer from severe allergic reactions.

What is the dosage?

Usually three doses of vaccine are recommended for protection against HPV infection. However, you should always consult with your physician before getting vaccinated.

How long the effect of vaccine last?

Experts say that the effect of cervical vaccine lasts longer. However, the vaccine has become popular only since the past six years and physicians have not yet found any significant evidence of a weakening effect of the vaccine.

What are the side effects?

No obvious side effects have been noticed following the injection of HPV vaccine. However, in some cases nausea, dizziness and fever were obese

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1. Szarewski A. HPV vaccination and cervical cancer. Curr Oncol Rep. 2012 Dec; 14(6):559-67.

2. Roden R and Wu TC.How will HPV vaccines affect cervical cancer? Nat Rev Cancer. 2006 Oct; 6(10):753-63.

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