Cervical Cancer, HPV and their Prevention

CervicalCancer, HPV and their Prevention

CervicalCancer, HPV and their Prevention

Cervicalcancer is responsible for the second highest number of deaths inwomen all over the world. HPV or Human Papillomavirus refers to about150 viruses which are related. These viruses cause benign wartscalled Papilloma. Among these viruses are some high risk typesthatare linked with certain kinds of cancers (American CancerSociety, 2011). About 40 of these viruses can be passed betweensexual partners. HPVs can also be passed on to others through theanus, mouth or skin contact. There are very many HPV infections everyyear. The virus can remain dormant for many years without showing anysigns. This essay shows how this HPV infection can be prevented andtherefore prevents cancer cases.

Infectionof high-risk HPV is the main cause of cervical cancer. Nearly allwomen get infected with the HPV virus before they die. However, mostof them will not have cervical cancer as a result. This is becausemost women have high immunity that will guard them against the virus.The risk of cervical cancer increases when one has HPVs that will notgo away. Every year, many women are discovered to have cervicalcancer rand many of the die from it (Garland, 2007). Apart from beingresponsible for cervical cancer, HPV also causes anal cancer.Although this type of cancer is less common, many people arediagnosed with it and some succumb to it. Other cancers caused by HPVaffect the penis, oropharynx, vagina and vulva.

Cervicalcancer and other cancers are preventable if detected early. Sexualabstinence is the surest way of preventing HPV infections. For peoplewho are sexually active, remaining faithful to one partner who is notinfected is the strategy to use. The challenge is to know if yourpartner who was sexuallyactive before may be infected. Using condomsmay lower the risk of spreading HPV infection (Romanowski, 2011).However, they do not provide complete protection as the partsuncovered by the condom are open to infection. To reduce the cases ofinfection, the FDA has approved the use of Gardasil and Cervarixvaccines. The two vaccines are very effective in the prevention ofHPV infection. They mainly combat type 16 and type 18 which areresponsible for about 70% of anal and cervical cancers. Gardasilfights types 6 and 11 which are responsible for 90% of genital warts.

Gardasilis a product of Merck &amp Co and is also known as quadrivalentvaccine because it protects against types 6, 11, 16 and 18 of HPV.The inoculation is donethrice in muscles over six-month duration(Slade, 2009). According to the FDA, Gardasil can be used for malesand females as well. In women, it can help fight cervical cancer andother types of cancer affecting the vagina and vulva,caused by HPVtypes 16 and 18. In both males and females, the vaccine helps toprevent anal cancer. It is recommended for use by people aged between9 and 26.Cervarix is produced by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). It targetstypes 16 and 18 of HPV and is therefore a bivalent vaccine. LikeGardasil, it is administered in three vaccinations over duration ofsix months. Cervarix is approved for use in females aged between 9and 25. It guards against cervical cancer.

Despitebeing effective in preventing the identified types of HPV, they arenot approved for use against persistentinfection of other types ofHPV infection. The vaccines may not be able to prevent about 30% ofcervical cancers (Kreimer, 2011). Also, Gardasil will also fail toprevent about 10% of genital warts. The vaccines are not capable ofpreventing other types of sexually transmitted diseases or treatpeople already infected with cervical cancer or HPV. Because there isstill a chance of getting other types of cervical cancer, it isadvisable for those women who have been vaccinated to get regularscreening for cervical cancer.Males should also go for regular HPVtesting.

Thevaccinations are very important and should be encouraged. Theprevalence of cases of cervical cancer is quite high worldwide. Therate of HPV infection can be reduced if more vaccinations are carriedout globally (Garland, 2007). The vaccinations can help reduce thenumber of new infections each year. This can in turn eliminate theconstant need for medical care and other proceduresassociated withabnormal Pap tests. Health care costs will be lowered if people tookthese vaccines.

Inconclusion, the threat posed by cervical cancer is very real. Peopleshould take the step to guard themselves against HPV and cancer. Bothmen and women can be infected by HPV and therefore both should takeresponsibility. Once HPV infections are prevented, it will be easy toreduce the high number of cases of cervical cancer. The best time forthese infections is before someone becomes sexually active (AmericanCancer Society, 2011). It is therefore recommended for males andfemales in the ages of 9 to 26. The vaccines can help lower thenumber of cervical cancer cases in the world if more people get it.The vaccines are safe and they have been approved for use on humansby the FDA.


AmericanCancer Society (2011).&nbspCancerFacts and Figures 2011&nbsp .Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society. Retrieved December 27, 2011.

Garland,SM Hernandez-Avila, M Wheeler CM, et al. (2007). Quadrivalentvaccine against human papillomavirus to prevent anogenitaldiseases.&nbspNewEngland Journal of Medicine&nbsp356(19):1928–1943.&nbsp

Kreimer,AR Gonzalez, P Katki, H et al. (2011). Efficacy of a bivalent HPV16/18 vaccine against anal HPV 16/18 infection among young women: anested analysis within the Costa Rica Vaccine Trial.LancetOncology 12(9):862–870.

Romanowski,B. (2011). Long term protection against cervical infection with thehuman papillomavirus: review of currently available vaccines.&nbspHumanVaccines7(2):161–169.&nbsp

Slade,BALeidel, LVellozzi, C et al. (2009). Postlicensure safetysurveillance for quadrivalent human papillomavirus recombinantvaccine.&nbspJAMA302(7):750–757.