Gardasil, a new vaccine to help to protect against cervical cancer has recently been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
I know all you guys out there are going to stop reading this thinking, I don't have a cervix, what does this have to do with me. It has everything to do with you as much as it does women. Most men have a mother, grandmother, aunt, sister, girlfriend, or perhaps even a daughter who you can educate about this vaccine and help to protect them from cervical cancer.
What are cervical cancer, precancerous lesions, and genital warts?
Cancer of the cervix is a serious disease that can be life-threatening. This disease is caused by certain HPV (human papillomavirus) types that can cause the cells in the lining of the cervix to change from normal to precancerous lesions. If these are not treated, they can turn into cancerous lesions.
Genital warts are caused by certain types of HPV. The warts often appear as skin-colored growths. They are found on the inside or outside of the genitals. They can hurt, itch, bleed, and cause discomfort. These lesions are usually not precancerous. Sometimes, it takes multiple treatments to eliminate these lesions.
What is the Human Papillomavirus (HPV)?
In 2005, the CDC estimated at least 50% of sexually active people have HPV during their lifetime. A male or female of any age who takes part in any kind of sexual activity that involves genital contact is at risk.
Many people who have HPV may not show any signs or symptoms. This means that they can pass the virus to others and not know it.
Will Gardasil help me if I already have HPV?
You may benefit from Gardasil if you already have HPV. This is because most people are not infected with all four types of HPV contained in the vaccine. In clinical trials, individuals with current or past infection with one or more vaccine-related HPV types prior to vaccination were protected from disease caused by the remaining vaccine HPV types. Gardasil is not intended to be used for treatment for the above mentioned diseases, it is intended for prevention.
What other key information about Gardasil should I know?
- Vaccination does not substitute routine cervical cancer screenings.
- As with any vaccine, Gardasil may not fully protect everyone who gets the vaccine.
- Gardasil will NOT protect against diseases due to non-vaccine HPV types. There are more than 100 HPV types; Gardasil helps protect against four (6, 11, 16 and 18). These four types have been selected for Gardasil because they cause approximately 70% of cervical cancer and 90% of genital warts.
- This vaccine will not protect against HPV types to which you may have already been exposed.
Who can receive Gardasil?
Gardasil is indicated for girls and women 9 through 26 years of age (studies are still being done beyond that age group recommendation).
How is Gardasil given?
Gardasil is an intramuscular injection. The vaccine course of treatment includes 3 doses of the vaccine. Ideally the doses are given as follows:
- 1st dose; date of your choice
- 2nd dose; 2 months after 1st dose
- 3rd dose; 6 months after 1st dose
It is important to receive all 3 doses to ensure full benefits from the vaccine.
If you have any further questions concerning this vaccine please contact the Gable Health Center at (610) 921-7532. We are offering this vaccine at the Health Center. If you are interested in receiving the vaccine please contact us and we will place an order upon your request.
Have a safe and healthy autumn.