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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Vaccination against Cervical Cancer, Genital Warts, and other HPV-Related Cancers and Diseases

Is there a vaccine to prevent HPV?

In 2006, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a vaccine that helps protect against diseases caused by 2 types of HPV (HPV 16 and 19) that cause 70% of all cervical cancers. The vaccine also helps to protect against 2 types of HPV (HPV 6 and 11) that cause 90% of genital warts. This quadrivalent vaccine that prevents cervical cancer, vulvar and vaginal cancers as well as genital warts is approved by the Philippine Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) and is available in the Philippines. It is approved for use in children and adolescents (male and female) from 9 through 17 years old and women 18 to 45 years old.

Another vaccine that protects against HPV 16 and 18 that cause cervical cancer has been approved by the BFAD for use in the Philippines. This bivalent vaccine is approved for use in the Philippines for females from 10 years of age onwards.

How do
the HPV vaccines provide protection against cervical cancer and other HPV-related diseases?

HPV vaccines are believed to stimulate the body’s immune system to produce neutralizing antibodies that help protect against HPV in the skin cells of the genital area.

HPV vaccines are not intended to treat already existing cervical cancer and other HPV caused diseases.

Who should get vaccinated with the HPV Vaccine?

For the quadrivalent vaccine:
Girls and women ages 9 to 45 years
Boys and male adolescent ages 9 to17 years
Catch-up vaccination is recommended for females aged 13 to 26 years who have not been previously vaccinated.

For the bivalent vaccine:
Girls and women ages 10 onwards

To be most effective, HPV vaccines should be given before a person has any type of sexual contact with another person.

Can women who are already sexually active or who have experienced HPV diseases still get vaccinated?

Women who are already sexually active may still benefit from vaccination. That’s because even if a woman has been exposed to HPV, it's unlikely that she has been exposed to all virus types covered by an HPV vaccine. So the vaccine could still help protect against HPV types the woman hasn't been exposed to.

How are the HPV vaccines administered?

The Quadrivalent HPV vaccine administration schedule involves three doses administered intramuscularly within 6 months
(day 1, month 2, and month 6).

The Bivalent HPV vaccine administration involves three doses administered intramuscularly within 6 months
(day 1, month 1, and month 6)

Why is Vaccination at a Young Age Recommended?

HPV vaccination is most effective when given during childhood or adolescence, i.e. before sexual debut, when HPV infection risk is nil or at its lowest.

Vaccination at a young age is also ideal because this is when the immune system is at its strongest and, therefore, will mount a robust response to the vaccine.

Is vaccination with the HPV vaccines safe?

Appropriateness of HPV vaccination for each patient should always be determined by a doctor. Vaccinations should be upon doctor's prescription.

HPV vaccines are contraindicated to those who are hypersensitive to the active substances or to any of the excipients of the vaccine.

Always tell the doctor if the person getting vaccinated has any severe allergies.

Pregnant women should not get the vaccine.

Particular Safety Data for Each Vaccine:

For the Quadrivalent Vaccine:

Individuals exhibiting hypersensitivity to the active substances or to any of the excipients of the vaccine should not get the vaccine.
Individuals who develop symptoms indicative of hypersensitivity after receiving a dose of the vaccine should not receive further doses of the vaccine.

Women who are breastfeeding may get the vaccine.

Common adverse events include: pyrexia, pain in extremity, and erythema, pain, swelling and pruritus at the injection site

For the Bivalent Vaccine:

The effect on breastfed infants of the administration of the bivalent vaccine to their mothers has not been evaluated in clinical studies. The bivalent vaccine should only be used during breastfeeding when possible advantages outweigh the possible risks.

Common adverse events include: headache, GI including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain, itching, pruritus, rash, urticaria, myalgia and arthral gia, pain redness and swelling at the injection site, fatigue and fever (=38°C).

For more information, please refer to the American Cancer Society (ACS) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).