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Latest HPV Vaccine Prevents 80 Percent of Cervical Cancers

May 12, 2015 02:08 PM EDT
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New research says that the latest HPV vaccine can potentially prevent an astonishing 80 percent of cervical cancers in the United States.

At least, that's if it's given to all 11- or 12-year-old children before they are exposed to the virus, according to new findings published in the JNCI Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

What's even more amazing is that the new 9-Valent human papillomavirus vaccine, which includes seven cancer causing HPV-types - 16,18,31,33,45,52 and 58 - doesn't just protect against cervical cancer. It also has the potential to protect against nearly 19,000 other cancers diagnosed in the United States, including anal, oropharyngeal and penile cancers. That's a 13 percent boost in protection against HPV-related cancers compared to the very first vaccines on the market, Gardasil and Cervarix, which only protected against HPV types 16 and 18.

"This is the first comprehensive study of its kind and shows the potential to not only reduce the global cancer burden, but also guide clinical decision-making with regard to childhood vaccinations," Marc T. Goodman, the study's senior author and director of Cancer Prevention and Genetics at the Cedars-Sinai Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute, said in a press release.

Cervical cancer used to be the leading cause of cancer death for women in the United States. However, in the past 40 years, the number of cases of cervical cancer and the number of deaths from cervical cancer have decreased significantly, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That's in part thanks to HPV vaccines, which now make cervical cancer highly preventable in most Western countries.

And now, with the latest 9-Valent vaccine (commonly known as Gardasil-9), hopefully the number of cervical cancer cases will drop even further. Perhaps it may even reduce incidents of other cancers as well.

Specifically, it could protect against an additional eight percent of oropharyngeal cancers, which include the base of the tongue and tonsils and is the second-most-common HPV-associated cancer.

"We found that 70 percent of patient DNA tissue samples with cancer of the oropharynx harbored HPV," added Goodman. "This is a much higher percentage of HPV than observed in other studies, likely because of changes in sexual behaviors, such as increased oral-genital contact."

The 9-Valent vaccine was also found to potentially increase protection from other HPV-related cancers including those of the vulva, from 71 to 92 percent; vagina, from 73 percent to 98 percent; the penis, 76 percent to 90 percent; and the anus, 87 percent to 96 percent.

Study authors intend to perform additional research in the future to follow up on their estimate of how well the current vaccines protect against HPV-associated cancers.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

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