Is cancer of the cervix caused by Human Papilloma Virus ? and is there a vaccine to prevent cervical cancer?
The Human Papilloma Virus is a DNA virus which is responsible for 99.7% of all cervical cancers.
Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in Indian women with 1.32 lakh new cases and 70,000 deaths every year.
Worldwide more than 50% of sexually active women become infected and in the United States 1 out of 4 females is found to be HPV infected.
Unlike other cancers , cervical cancer occurs early and strikes at the productive period of a women’s life.
HPV has more than 100 types. HPV types 16 and18 account for 76.7% of cervical cancer in India.
HPV types 6 and 11 are responsible for more than 90% of anogenital warts.
Two vaccines have been licenced globally, against HPV, and studies have shown that they are over 99% effective in preventing cancer cervix.
The vaccines are –
- Quadrivalent vaccine from MSD – ‘Gardasil’ protects against HPV 16 18 , 6 and 11.
- Bivalent vaccine from GSK – ‘ Cervarix’ protects against HPV 16 and 18.
The vaccine is indicated in girls and women from 9 to 26 years of age.
The vaccine is administerd according to the following schedule:
- First Dose: at elected date
- Second dose: 2 months after the first dose.
- Third Dose: 6 months after the first dose.
At present there is no booster dose.
The HPV vaccine shows remarkable promise in reducing the worldwide incidence of cervical cancer. Now that it is available in India , one hopes that cervical cancer will cease to be the no 1 killer due to cancer in women.