Avoid virus-linked cancers, including cervical cancer, with shots

With a simple vaccine, you can avoid HPV-linked cancer, including cervical cancer and many cancers of the mouth, throat, anus and genitals, which constitute more than 3 percent of all U.S. cancer diagnoses. Vaccination against the human papilloma virus (HPV) thwarts the virus’s spread, wrecks its ability to jump between people and inhibits a virus that in 2009 led to a cancer diagnosis for 30,000 people in the U.S., according to the National Cancer Insititue

HPV infection is common. More than half of women between 14 and 59 catch a genital HPV. Many of these infections are low-risk, but when the body does not sweep out HPV intruders, high-risk HPV infected cells may lead to the unchecked growth of cancerous cells, according to Newswise, a research-reporting service.

HPV is actually a family of more than 150 viruses that infect human skin and mucosa, the moist membranes lining the nostrils, mouth and genital cavities. Two vaccines, Gardasil and Cervarix, prevent people from getting HPV infections by helping the body stockpile a medley of cellular defenses. Gardasil and Cervarix target HPV types 16 and 18, the two responsible for most cervical, anal, genital, and oropharynx cancer.  Blocking infection by types 16 and 18 also fights off other cancers, and the vaccines’ protection could last a lifetime. Gardasil also targets types 6 and 11.

It is important to complete the three-dose series for the vaccines; series completion rates are low for people in the Southern states, especially those that are poor and without private insurance, according to Newswise. Scientists are working to make a single vaccine that blocks infection by all HPV types, but today’s vaccines can prevent infection by two of the most common high-risk HPVs and may be the first step toward preventing HPV-linked cancers. (Read more)

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