Shedding Light on the Importance of HPV Vaccination

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Shedding Light on the Importance of HPV Vaccination
Shedding Light on the Importance of HPV Vaccination

In an interview with The Guardian, Michael Douglas revealed that his throat cancer was not a product of his past drinking and smoking, but rather caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) passed on from oral sex. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection with an estimated 20 million people currently infected in the U.S . Most HPV infections are asymptomatic and transient.  However, in some people, HPV can develop into genital warts, cervical cancer, and other types of cancer (eg, oropharnygeal). While oropharnygeal cancer due to HPV infection is not common, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology states that there is an increase in population-level incidence of these types of cancers caused by HPV.

Two HPV vaccines have been approved by the FDA to prevent HPV-related diseases. In 2006, the FDA approved Merck's Gardasil, a quadrivalent HPV vaccine indicated in girls and women 9 through 26 years of age for the prevention of the following diseases caused by HPV types included in the vaccine:

  • Cervical, vulvar, vaginal, and anal cancer caused by HPV types 16 and 18
  • Genital warts (condyloma acuminata) caused by HPV types 6 and 11

And the following precancerous or dysplastic lesions caused by HPV types 6, 11, 16, and 18:

  • Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) grade 2/3 and Cervical adenocarcinoma in situ (AIS)
  • Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) grade 1
  • Vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN) grade 2 and grade 3
  • Vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia (VaIN) grade 2 and grade 3
  • Anal intraepithelial neoplasia (AIN) grades 1, 2, and 3

Four years later, Gardasil was approved for use in boys and men 9 through 26 years of age for the prevention of the following diseases caused by HPV types included in the vaccine:

  • Anal cancer caused by HPV types 16 and 18
  • Genital warts (condyloma acuminata) caused by HPV types 6 and 11

And the following precancerous or dysplastic lesions caused by HPV types 6, 11, 16, and 18:

  • Anal intraepithelial neoplasia (AIN) grades 1, 2, and 3

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