Cervical Cancer Vaccine and the Controversies

What Is Cervical Cancer?

Cervical cancer is a malignancy of the cervix or the neck of the womb located at the top of the vagina. In the early stages, symptoms may be absent. In the more advanced stages, it may present with vaginal bleeding. Globally, cervical cancer causes the second-highest number of cancer deaths among women.

Some burning questions are, first, what causes cervical cancer? The papilloma virus is the virus which causes cervical cancer. Up to 80% of sexually active women have been exposed to the two types of human papilloma virus that are principally responsible for cervical cancer deaths. Globally, however, it causes the second-highest number of cancer deaths among women.

The second questions here is, how can it be prevented? Prevention is the ultimate goal in the war on cancer so that is the reason the search has been passionate for some type of cure, prevention or vaccine. Merck & Company, Inc. thinks that it has the answer with the development of Gardasil.

What Is The New Vaccine?

A new vaccine that protects against cervical cancer is Gardasil. A Mayo Clinic doctor said recently, that the vaccine, Gardasil, is the most important advance in the fight against cervical cancer offering optimum protection when girls are inoculated even before they become sexually active. Guardasil targets four different strains of the human papilloma virus.

The Gardasil Controversy

Gardasil, the new vaccine that protects against cervical cancer has created a moral and social battle between health advocates who want to use the shots aggressively to prevent thousands of malignancies but social conservatives who feel that by making this immunization available to teens, the message would encourage sexual promiscuity. So would it or is this someone’s paranoia?

Activists on both sides have begun attempting to influennce how widely the immunizations will be employed. The groups who have been on the cutting edge of new developments in cancer reduction are waiting for this vaccine to become another one on the standard roster of childhood vaccinations, particularly for the girls.

The Cosst of Gardasil

The approximate anticipated cost of the vaccine is $300 to $500 for the three shots administered over a period of six months. The most up-to-date research on Gardasil shows that it has remained potent for more than four years after the immunization process.

The Safety of Gardasil

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that Gardasil is safe but noted “compelling evidence” that it is less effective for women already exposed to the virus and could worsen the cervical cancer for women who already have it. FDA has also pointed out that there have been five cases where children with birth defects were born to women who received the vaccine presumably around the time of conception. Merck & Company, Inc., the drug company responsible for the development of Gardasil, said it was “highly unlikely” that the birth defects were related to Gardasil.

Gardasil has progressed through Phase II and Phase III of clinical trials to evaluate Gardasil and will soon be ready for release to the general public.

Availability of Gardasil

The vaccine is not yet available. The FDA is expectig a decision by June 8 of when it will be available to the public. Exactly how the vaccine is used is largely going to be determined by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a panel of experts. Their guidelines included recommendations for childood vaccines becoming the basis for vaccination requirements that are set by public schools. Conservative groups are now welcoming the previously opposed vaccine, as an important public health tool but are opposed to the vaccine becoming mandatory.

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