Friday, June 09, 2006

No Cervical Cancer for Your Daughter

Big big news (and controversy) these last few days with the news of a cervical cancer vaccine set to be released by early 2007. The vaccine, named Gardasil, is expecting a speedy FDA approval. It reportedly works remarkably well, 100% effective. Here's a brief overview on the topic.

Cervical Cancer

  • Affects 10,000 in US and 500,000 worldwide annually
  • Most commonly (70%) caused by HPV virus
  • Second-most common type of cancer in women world wide
  • Second-most common cause of cancer death in women world wide
  • Less common cause of death in US because of early detection
  • It's the major reason behind performing annual Pap smear tests
New Vaccine: Gardasil

  • Attacks the two most common strains of HPV that cause cervical cancer
  • Also attacks strains of HPV that cause genital warts
  • May also aid in preventing vaginal and vulvar cancer
  • Should be injected in girls before they become sexually active
  • Current estimated cost is $360 each
Big Controversy

  • Will it give teenage girls a false sense of security?
  • Are parents inadvertently promoting teenage sex?
Other Questions to Ponder

  • Like other vaccines, will there be a need for booster shots?
  • How frequent?
  • What is the most effective time to inject the vaccine? (Current guess is age 12)
  • What about the other causes of cervical cancer?
  • Unknown long term side-effects
It's exciting times, no matter how you feel about this vaccine. Whether it delivers what it promises, it sure will cause quite a stir for the next 2 years. More news will pop up as similar vaccines hit the market. Be prepared to engage in multiple conversations on the topic. Start reading up now before you fall behind.


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