HPV vaccination a wise investment, says expert

Dr. Efren Domingo is not a financial consultant but people should listen when he recommends investments in health.

“Investing in a vaccine proven to protect against cervical cancer and other genital cancers is smart. The cost of the vaccine is a fraction of the cost of cancer treatment,” says the women’s cancer specialist and one of the principal investigators in research that led to the development of papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.

Domingo is secretary general of the Asia Oceania Research Organization (AOGIN) and concurrent AOGIN Philippines president.

Disease associated with HPV virus

Over 100 types of HPV have been identified, about 40 of which infect the anal and genital areas with approximately 15 to 20 types proven to cause cancer. HPV has been implicated in cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina, anus, penis, oropharynx (tongue and tonsils), low-grade dysplasia (abnormal changes in cells lining the cervix), genital warts, and recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (warty growths in the larynx of children and young adults).

One hundred percent of cervical cancer cases worldwide (with most 500.000 new cases and 270.000 deaths each year); 40 percent of vulvar and vaginal cases; 90 percent of anal cancer cases; 40 percent of penile cancer cases; and three percent of mouth cancer cases can be attributed to cancer-causing HPV types.

“Our generation is lucky to be born in an era when vaccine that prevents cervical cancer and other HPV-related cancer is available,” says Domingo, who lost his mother to cervical cancer several years ago.

Early vaccination recommended

The HPV vaccine stimulates the body’s immune system to produce neutralizing antibodies that kill HPV in the skin cells of a man or woman’s genital area.

“The best time to get vaccinated is that at young age when the immune system is at its strongest and, therefore, will mount a robust antibody response to the vaccine.The stronger your immune response, the better your protection will be. Early vaccinationis also ideal because sexual debut is unlikely at this age and, therefore, HPV infection risk is nil or at its lowest,” says Domingo.

“As early as nine for both girls and boys,” Domingo stresses. “Catch-up vaccination is for any woman who was vaccinated after she has had sex, regardless of age.

What about women who are already sexually active? “They may still benefit from vaccination because even if a woman has been exposed to HPV, it’s unlikely that she has been exposed to all virus types covered by the HPV vaccine. So the vaccine could still help protect against HPV types the woman hasn’t been exposed to,” Domingo explains.

According to him, both HPV vaccines have excellent safety and tolerability profiles. Minor adverse reactions, such as pain, redness and swelling, are limited to the injection site. No major adverse events have been reported. The vaccination schedule for both vaccines involves three doses administered intramuscularly within six months.

Vaccination can help prevent HPV-caused cervical cancer, genital warts, vaginal cancer, and vulvar cancer. Ask your doctor about the different ways to help prevent these HPV-related diseases. More information is available from the UP-PGH Obstetrics and Gynecology Infectious Disease Section website for HPV – log on to www.hpv.com.ph


source: Philippine Star
Health & Medicine