(Written on 19/09/2009)
*Disclaimer: This is simply one of my personal experience during medical school. This article does not imply or compare superiority amongst different HPV vaccines available in the market. This does not prove or shown that any certain HPV vaccine is more superior than others. thank you.
I had my second dose of GARDASIL today. It was rather funny, the scene at the treatment room, a group of medical students, jabbing each other intramuscularly at the deltoid region… anyway, that’s beside the point. Today, I would like to introduce you to my new friend: GARDASIL.
Readers, meet GARDASIL
Readers, meet GARDASIL upclose.... note: this single dose vaccine package came with it's syringe. You could even choose your prefered needle size!
GARDASIL meet your clients
What the heck is GARDASIL, you may ask… GARDASIL is a Quadrivalent Human Papillomavirus (Types 6, 11, 16, 18) Recombinant Vaccine.
Allow me to elaborate…
The second highest leading cause of death from cancer amongst Malaysian Women, and worldwide, is CERVICAL CANCER, first being Breast Cancer. Cervical cancer, as the name implies, is the cancer of the cervix, which is the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina.
(anatomy of cervix)
Cervical cancer is caused by certain high-risk type of Human Papillomavirus Virus (HPV). When a female becomes infected with this virus, it may causes abnormal cells to develop in the lining of the cervix, which can lead to precancerous cells, and if not discover early and treated, will lead to cancer.
Over the years, women with cervical cancer, had suffered from minor operations, hysterectomy (removal of the whole uterus), radiotherapy, chemotherapy and even death from cancer spread.
? How is HPV transmitted?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the only way you can totally protect yourself against HPV is to avoid any sexual activity that involves genital contact. In summary, abstinence is the ONLY way to prevent cervical cancer. And I am not talking about multiple partners. A single partner, let’s say your future spouse, can also cause cervical cancer to you. So, unless you are very sure that you can avoid sexual activity life long, I suggest you read on.
? How to prevent cervical cancer?
Thank God, now, researches had developed a vaccine against HPV (Human Papillomavirus Virus), the causative agents of cervical cancer = GARDASIL. HPV types 16 and 18 causes 70% of cervical cancer cases, and HPV types 6 and 11 causes 90% of genital warts cases. GARDASIL is so far the only vaccine that help guard against diseases caused by HPV type 6, 11, 16 and 18.
Note: Anyone who is allergic to the ingredients of GARDASIL should not receive the vaccine. Also, GARDASIL is not for women who are currently pregnant.
? Why am I telling you this now?
A research done on the effectiveness of GARDASIL was done on a population sample on those non-sexually active between 16-26 years old and the result was significant. In fact, the earlier you are vaccinated, the better it is. Therefore, since most of my friends and blog readers are among this age group, I would like to introduce this vaccine to you. It is recommended for girls between 9-26 years old.
? Do one still have to go for PAP smear after vaccinated?
YES. GARDASIL does not protect you 100% from cervical cancer. PAP smear is still the number one screening tool for cervical cancer. It is a cheap and simple procedure. Therefore, once you are sexually active, you still have to go for PAP smear anually (for 3 years, and if all previous smears were normal, screen every 3 yearly).
? Where can I get this and how much?
You can get yourself vaccinated at any local clinic. The price is about RM350 per dose, with a total of 3 dose altogether. Be aware that some vaccine only covers for 2 HPV. Make sure you asked your doctor for more information. Or else, just insist on GARDASIL which provides vaccination against the 4 HPV mentioned above.
? How effective is this vaccine?
As for all vaccine, vaccination with GARDASIL may not result in protection in all vaccine recipients. The efficacy of GARDASIL was assessed in 4 placebo-controlled, double-blind, randomized Phase II and III clinical studies. These studies evaluated 20451 women 16 to 26 years old of age at enrollment. The efficacy of GARDASIL against HPV 16- and 18-related CIN 2/3 or AIS was 100% in all four studies (Protocol 005, Protocol 007, FUTURE I and FUTURE II and combined protocols). The efficacy of GARDASIL against HPV 6,11,16 and 18 CIN was 100%, 100%, 90.7% and 95.2% respectively in studies : Protocol 007, FUTURE I and FUTURE II and combined protocols . While the efficacy of GARDASIL against HPV 6,11,16,18 genital lesions (eg warts, VIN, VaIN) was 100%,100%, 98.6% and 99.1% respectively.
? Possible side effects?
Commonly: Fever, redness, pain and swelling at injection site.
Sometimes: Pruritus (itchiness) and hemorrhage (bleeding) at injection site
Very Rarely: Bronchospasm, syncope
? Is it worth the money?
I shall leave it for you to decide. (It sucks right? When women have to suffer from a cancer spread by man. Sigh.. ) Thinking down the line, between a thousand and cervical cancer, if you have some extra savings to spare, why not?
I wanted to include some pictures of cervical cancer and cervical warts, but I was a bit worried that it might upset some readers, certainly not for the faint heart, and I do not know how to include spoilers in a blog… maybe, some other time, perhaps… or you could try goggling for pictures, the internet makes it so convenient…
MORE ON GARDASIL here http://www.gardasil.com/
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