A vaccine designed to protect women and girls from cervical cancer caused by a virus that also causes genital warts, may protect men too.
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The Gardasil vaccine was 90% effective in preventing lesions, mostly sexually transmitted warts, caused by the virus in men, research found. It was about 45% effective in preventing infection with the four strains of humanpapilloma virus (HPV) it targets.
"We see 90.4% efficacy is reducing external genital lesions in males related to these four types of HPV - 6, 11, 16, 18," said Anna Giuliano of the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Centre & Research Institute in Florida, US.
Most common STI in the world
HPV infection is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the world and over 50% of sexually active adults are believed to be infected with it at some point in their lives.
It is the main cause of cervical cancer, which kills more than 3,000 women a year in South Africa and 300,000 globally.
Vaccine also guards against penile cancer
HPV is also to blame for half of all cases of cancer of the penis.
New finding suggests already available human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines for cervical cancer are also likely to be effective in the fight against penile cancer, doctors from the Catalan Institute of Oncology in Barcelona said.
Merck & Co's Gardasil and GlaxoSmithKline's Cervarix are both used widely to immunize girls against HPV infection, which can lead to cancer of the cervix.
Penile cancer is much rarer, accounting for less than 1% of adult male cancers in Europe and North America, although the incidence can be as high as 10% in parts of Africa and Asia. Worldwide, there are more than 26,000 new cases every year. - (Reuters Health/Health24, November 2008)
Last updated: September 2009