HPV vaccine photo 200What if there was a shot that could all but eliminate the risk for a deadly cancer? Would you get it for your child?

That's how effective the HPV vaccine can be against cervical cancer. The latest findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that 92% of cervical cancer cases are caused by HPV, or human papillomavirus. That means the HPV vaccine could prevent up to 32,000 cases of cervical cancer every year.

HPV can lead to cancers in both women and men, including cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis, anus, throat, tongue and tonsils. HPV is transmitted through sexual activity and it's estimated that 80% of adults carry the virus. Most people with HPV have no signs or symptoms of the infection.

An HPV vaccination before a person becomes sexually active can safeguard against these cancers but not enough young people are getting it. The latest surveys by the CDC show that only 51% of teens aged 13 to 17 have been vaccinated against HPV.

The vaccine is recommended for girls and boys at age 11 or 12 but can be given as young as age 9. Research has shown that receiving the HPV vaccine at a young age isn't linked to an earlier start of sexual activity.

HPV vaccination is a two-dose schedule for those age 14 and under and a three-dose schedule for those between the ages of 15 and 26. The vaccine is approved for use up to age 45, but once someone is infected with HPV, the vaccine might not be as effective or might not work at all.

Even if you already have one strain of HPV, you could still benefit from the vaccine because it can protect you from other strains that you don't yet have. The vaccine cannot treat an existing HPV infection.

The HPV vaccine isn't intended to replace Pap tests. Routine screening for cervical cancer through regular Pap tests beginning at age 21 remains an essential part of a woman's preventive health care.

Northline Women's Health Center Locations:

15675 Northline Road

Southgate, MI 48195

(734) 282-3600
(734) 282-3603 - Fax

23050 West Road, Suite 210

Brownstown Twp., MI 48183

(734) 362-7000
(734) 362-7077 - Fax