22 January 2007

Cervical cancer vaccine for girls

Guidelines recommend that girls between the ages of 11 and 12 be vaccinated to prevent cervical cancer.

Females should be vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV) when they're 11 to 12 years old in order to prevent cervical cancer, new American Cancer Society guidelines recommend.

Other major health groups have also called for widespread vaccination in this age group.

In 2007, an estimated 11,150 cervical cancer cases will be diagnosed in the United States, and about 3,670 women will die from the disease, the society noted. Almost all cervical cancers are causally related to HPV.

The new guidelines emphasize that the full potential of the HPV vaccine will be reached only if widespread vaccination is achieved in groups of women who don't get regular cervical screenings. The guidelines are published in the January/February issue of CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

"The vaccine holds remarkable potential, but unless the same populations of women who right now do not have access to or do not seek regular Pap tests gets this vaccine, it will have limited impact," Dr. Harmon J. Eyre, lead author of the guidelines and chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, said in a prepared statement.

"Also, as HPV vaccination for the prevention of cervical cancer is introduced and promoted, it remains critical that women undergo regular screening even if they have been vaccinated," Eyre said.

The guidelines state that:

  • Routine HPV vaccination is recommended for females ages 11 to 12 years.
  • Females as young as 9 years may receive HPV vaccination.
  • HPV vaccination is also recommended for females ages 13 to 18 years to catch up on a missed vaccine or to complete the vaccination series.
  • HPV vaccine is not currently recommended for women over age 26 or for males.
  • There is not enough data to recommend for or against HPV vaccination for women ages 19 to 26.
  • Screening for cervical cancer and pre-cancers should continue in both vaccinated and unvaccinated women.

(HealthDay News, January 2007)

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