A new study has revealed that when women receive a single dose of the vaccine guarding against the human papillomavirus, or HPV, their chance of suffering abnormal cervical issues, such as cervical cancer, is greater than for those who receive two doses.
While no major difference was found between women who had three doses of the vaccine or two, there was a substantial difference for those who had only one. The study included almost 12,000 young women. The chances of developing invasive cervical cancer were much higher in the group of women who only received a one-dose vaccination.
The study followed the young women for up to five years after they had received the vaccination. Researchers behind the study commented that it is important to do a longer follow-up to gather a more comprehensive understanding on the medical risks the single dose vaccines pose. One reason for this is that it is possible that between five and ten years after the vaccines, health problems or disease could arise that were measurable in the first five years.
Many medical professionals have cited data and findings that favor a two-dose administration instead of three. Throughout Europe and Canada, for example, it is standard practice to administer two doses six months apart. Here in the U.S., two doses are now recommended, but some medical professionals continue to administer three. Yet, when the HPV vaccine is administered in two doses six months apart, it appears to be just as effective in protecting people against HPV and other associated oncologic risks as three vaccinations.
Guarding the American population against HPV transmission has been a top medical priority. As part of the Healthy People 2020 initiative, the goal to vaccinate 80% of 13-to-15-year-olds is at the top of the list. However, at this point in time only 40% of girls and slightly over 20% of boys between the ages of 13 and 17-years-old have completed the three-dose vaccinations.
After data was published that showed that two doses are no less effective than three, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began to support the idea of two-dose vaccines. Doctors and researchers believe that if the dosage was changed from three vaccines to two, that the HPV vaccine coverage rates could increase in the younger population.
HPV can cause genital warts and many different types of cancers. The most common type of cancer that HPV causes is cervical, although it can cause throat cancer and other kinds as well. HPV can be particularly dangerous because it often causes no symptoms. In some cases, people may develop genital warts but the best way to be protected is to see a healthcare provider and discuss the vaccine as well as any questions or concerns.
The vaccine can also help to protect against other serious health issues, such as carcinoma intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) and adenocarcinoma in situ. CIN is also known as cervical dysplasia. It is a potentially premalignant growth of cells on the surface of the cervix, and if left untreated can lead to the development of cervical cancer. Adenocarcinoma in situ of the uterine cervix, like CIN, is a premalignant condition. It affects the glandular tissue of the area. It can be managed and treated, but if not, can lead to invasive disease such as cervical adenocarcinoma.
The HPV vaccine helps guard women against cervical cancer, since many strains of HPV can cause premalignant growth. While the vaccine does not 100% diminish the chances of a woman developing this type of cancer it greatly limits the chances, which is why the Healthy People 2020 initiative lists it as a medical priority in the country. Almost 13,000 women each year are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and annually over 4,200 die as a result of the disease.
HPV also affects men and it is possible to develop cancer of the penis, anus or back of the throat. Just as in women, men too can get genital warts as a consequence of HPV transmission. For these reasons, the CDC recommends that boys and girls as young as 11 and men and women up to age 26 visit their healthcare professionals to discuss the HPV vaccine. The vaccine has been tested for safety and effectiveness, and can help protect the population against an array of serious, even deadly health concerns.
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