Cervarix and Gardasil: Cervical Cancer Vaccines

Drug Alerts , News / September 28, 2016

Cervarix is a vaccine indicated for the prevention of certain diseases caused by oncogenic (cancer-causing) human papilloma virus (HPV) types 16 and 18. Some cross-reactive protection against virus strains 45 and 31 was demonstrated in clinical trials.

Diseases which the vaccine protects against include cervical cancer, cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) grade 2 or worse and adenocarcinoma in situ, and cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) grade 1. Cervarix is approved for use in females 9 through 25 years of age.

Cervical cancer is cancer that starts in the cervix, the lower part of the uterus (womb) that opens at the top of the vagina. It is the third most common type of cancer in women. Cervical cancer usually develops very slowly, starting as a precancerous condition called dysplasia. This precancerous condition can be detected by a Pam smear and is 100% treatable. Undetected precancerous changes can develop into cervical cancer and spread to the bladder, intestines, lungs, and liver. It can take years for this to occur, and patients with cervical cancer do not usually have problems until the cancer is advanced and has spread.

Almost all cervical cancers are caused by HPV, which is spread by sexual intercourse. There are many different strains of HPV; some lead to cervical cancer, others cause genital warts, while some are quite harmless.

Most of the time, early cervical cancer has no symptoms. Symptoms that may occur include:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding between periods, after intercourse, or after menopause.
  • Any bleeding after menopause.
  • Continuous vaginal discharge, which may be pale, watery, pink, brown, bloody or foul-smelling.
  • Periods become heavier and last longer than usual.

Symptoms associated with advanced cervical cancer may include:

  • Back pain
  • Bone fractures
  • Fatigue
  • Heavy vaginal bleeding
  • Leaking of urine or feces from the vagina
  • Leg pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pelvic pain
  • Single swollen leg
  • Weight loss

Cervarix is a preventative HPV vaccine, and not therapeutic. Since HPV immunity is type-specific, a successful series of Cervarix shots will not block infection from HPV types other than 16 and 18, and some related types. Hence, experts continue to recommend routine cervical Pap smears even for women who have been vaccinated. Vaccination alone, without continued screening, will prevent fewer cervical cancers than regular screening alone.

Immunization with Cervarix consists of 3 intramuscular doses of 0.5 ml each at 0, 1 and 6 months. The preferred site of administration is the deltoid region of the upper arm.

Gardasil is another vaccine used in prevention of certain types of HPV, specifically types 6, 11, 16 and 18. Types 16 and 18 cause an estimated 70% of cervical cancers, and are responsible for most HPV-induced anal, vulvar, vaginal, and penile cancers. Types 6 and 11 cause an estimated 90% of genital wart cases.

Gardasil is used in girls and young women ages 9 to 25 to protect against cervical cancer and genital warts-causing HPV strains, as well as, protecting against 70% of vaginal and 50% of vulvular cancer cases. In boys and young men ages 9 to 25, Gardasil protects against genital warts-causing strains of HPV.

Gardasil is a preventative and not a therapeutic measure, thus it does not treat an existing infection. The vaccine may not offer full protection in all cases, nor will it protect against diseases caused by other HPY strains or against diseases not caused by HPV. It also does not prevent all types of cervical cancer, so it is important for women to continue routine cervical cancer screenings.

Gardasil is given in three 0.5 ml injections over a period of 6 months according to the following schedule: 0, 2, and 6 months.

Cervarix is a vaccine indicated for the prevention of certain diseases caused by oncogenic (cancer-causing) human papilloma virus (HPV) types 16 and 18. Some cross-reactive protection against virus strains 45 and 31 was demonstrated in clinical trials.

Diseases which the vaccine protects against include cervical cancer, cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) grade 2 or worse and adenocarcinoma in situ, and cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) grade 1. Cervarix is approved for use in females 9 through 25 years of age.

Cervical cancer is cancer that starts in the cervix, the lower part of the uterus (womb) that opens at the top of the vagina. It is the third most common type of cancer in women. Cervical cancer usually develops very slowly, starting as a precancerous condition called dysplasia. This precancerous condition can be detected by a Pam smear and is 100% treatable. Undetected precancerous changes can develop into cervical cancer and spread to the bladder, intestines, lungs, and liver. It can take years for this to occur, and patients with cervical cancer do not usually have problems until the cancer is advanced and has spread.

Almost all cervical cancers are caused by HPV, which is spread by sexual intercourse. There are many different strains of HPV; some lead to cervical cancer, others cause genital warts, while some are quite harmless.

Most of the time, early cervical cancer has no symptoms. Symptoms that may occur include:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding between periods, after intercourse, or after menopause.
  • Any bleeding after menopause.
  • Continuous vaginal discharge, which may be pale, watery, pink, brown, bloody or foul-smelling.
  • Periods become heavier and last longer than usual.

Symptoms associated with advanced cervical cancer may include:

  • Back pain
  • Bone fractures
  • Fatigue
  • Heavy vaginal bleeding
  • Leaking of urine or feces from the vagina
  • Leg pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pelvic pain
  • Single swollen leg
  • Weight loss

Cervarix is a preventative HPV vaccine, and not therapeutic. Since HPV immunity is type-specific, a successful series of Cervarix shots will not block infection from HPV types other than 16 and 18, and some related types. Hence, experts continue to recommend routine cervical Pap smears even for women who have been vaccinated. Vaccination alone, without continued screening, will prevent fewer cervical cancers than regular screening alone.

Immunization with Cervarix consists of 3 intramuscular doses of 0.5 ml each at 0, 1 and 6 months. The preferred site of administration is the deltoid region of the upper arm.

Gardasil is another vaccine used in prevention of certain types of HPV, specifically types 6, 11, 16 and 18. Types 16 and 18 cause an estimated 70% of cervical cancers, and are responsible for most HPV-induced anal, vulvar, vaginal, and penile cancers. Types 6 and 11 cause an estimated 90% of genital wart cases.

Gardasil is used in girls and young women ages 9 to 25 to protect against cervical cancer and genital warts-causing HPV strains, as well as, protecting against 70% of vaginal and 50% of vulvular cancer cases. In boys and young men ages 9 to 25, Gardasil protects against genital warts-causing strains of HPV.

Gardasil is a preventative and not a therapeutic measure, thus it does not treat an existing infection. The vaccine may not offer full protection in all cases, nor will it protect against diseases caused by other HPV strains or against diseases not caused by HPV. It also does not prevent all types of cervical cancer, so it is important for women to continue routine cervical cancer screenings.

Gardasil is given in three 0.5 ml injections over a period of 6 months according to the following schedule: 0, 2, and 6 months.

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