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Vaccinating against Cervical Cancer – How Effective Is It?
Vaccinating against Cervical Cancer – How Effective Is It?

Vaccinating against Cervical Cancer – How Effective Is It?

by Monday, February 1, 2016

Is the HPV vaccination effective in protecting your daughter from Cervical Cancer? Consider these cold, hard facts.

The introduction of the HPV vaccine not only has brought an amazing breakthrough in the advancement of science but has certainly opened new avenues in the way of prevention of cervical cancer. With the immunization of the HPV vaccine on girls, it can develop protection long before they are exposed to the disease. Conversely, the anti-HPV vaccination camp suspects the efficacy of the vaccine. They are also troubled by its safety record as numerous stories of adverse reactions to the vaccine have surfaced since its availability a decade ago. Now, just how effective and safe is the HPV vaccine? You should ponder the following facts when deciding whether or not to vaccinate and protect your child against cervical cancer.


  • The HPV vaccine is highly effective in preventing infections by four human papillomavirus (HPV), out of which two (HPV-16 and HPV-18) are responsible for 70% of cervical cancers. In fact, these viruses can also trigger other diseases such as anal cancer and genital warts. Thus, the HPV vaccine can be given to boys and men. Two brands of HPV vaccine are available in the market. Gardasil, manufactured by Merck, is approved for use in males and females aged 9 to 26. Cervarix, produced by GlaxoSmithKline, can be given to females aged 9 to 25.


  • However, the effectiveness of the HPV vaccine against cervical cancer is still completely unproven
    The Annals of Medicine, a well-regarded peer-reviewed medical journal, published a study called Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine policy and evidence-based medicine: Are they at odds?; its authors pointed out that although both HPV-approved vaccines (Gardasil and Cervarix) are very effective in inhibiting HPV-16/18 infections, at present there are no significant data showing that [the HPV vaccines] can prevent any type of cervical cancer since the testing period employed was too short to evaluate long-term benefits of HPV vaccination.


  • There are undesirable side effects from the HPV vaccines. The same study disclosed that the total number of adverse side effects reported for the Cervarix HPV vaccine seemed to be up to 104 times higher than reported for any other vaccines in the UK immunization schedule. And some of the more serious adverse reactions related to HPV vaccination include paralysis, convulsions, facial palsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, autoimmune disorders, pancreatitis, and even death.


  • HPV vaccination does not replace Pap smear screening. Due to other cancer-causing HPV strains, the current vaccine alone is not sufficient. The Pap smear test when combined with regular screening program and appropriate treatment follow-up can reduce cervical cancer deaths by up to 80%. Although HPV-16 and HPV-18 are found in most women with cervical cancers, the majority of cervical cancer deaths take place in developing countries due to lack of a comprehensive Pap smear screening In fact, studies have shown that when women discontinued their Pap smear screenings, there was a four-fold increase in cervical cancer cases over the next five years within the group. Closer to home, ineffective nationwide campaigns to encourage Pap smear testing have resulted in cervical cancer being the second most common cancer – and a top killer – among Malaysian women.



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Lucija Tomljenovic & Christopher A. Shaw. Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine policy and evidence-based medicine: Are they at odds? Annals of Medicine, 2011

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