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What is Cervical Cancer and HPV Vaccination

What is Cervical Cancer and HPV Vaccination

by: Dr. Nupur Gupta
Consultant and Unit Head Gynecology

Cervical cancer is the cancer of the cervix which is the lower part of the uterus that opens in the vagina. Cervical cancer is of importance as it is the second most common cancer affecting the urban female population in India.

What Causes Cervical Cancer?

In almost 90% of the cases cervical cancer is caused by a virus called Human Papilloma Virus or HPV. HPV infection is contracted by sexual intercourse. It is important to note that all patients infected by HPV do not have cervical cancer. Other risk factors for cervical cancer include smoking, decreased immunity, having sex at an early age, having multiple sexual partners and chronic cervical infection.

What Is The Role Of HPV Vaccine?

HPV vaccine is a vaccine against the Human Papilloma Virus. Like other vaccine it works by protecting an individual from getting infected by certain strains of HPV. There are two types of HPV vaccines available in our country. Both protect against HPV 16 and 18 strains of HPV which are the main causative agents of cervical cancer.

When and How Is The Vaccine Given?

According to National Immunization Guidelines, all girls between the age group of 11-12 years should receive this vaccine. Any female in the age group of 9-45 years can receive the vaccine. It is ideal for girls to receive the vaccine before they have sexual contact and are exposed to HPV, because studies show that the efficacy of vaccine can be low in females who are already infected. Girls between 9 and 14 years of age are given two doses of HPV vaccine, at least six months apart. Whereas  those above 15 years of age should be given three doses of vaccine at a scheduled interval. This vaccine is given intramuscularly in the deltoid region or anterior thigh.

What Could Be The Side Effects Of The Vaccine?

The side effects of the vaccine are usually mild and rare. Few people receiving this vaccine complain of pain, swelling and redness at the site of injection. Some may report fever, headache, nausea and vomiting.

Who Should Not Get The Hpv Vaccine?

HPV vaccine is contraindicated in pregnant females. Women with hypersensitivity to the vaccine should also not be given.

What Is The Role Of Pap Smear?

PAP smear is an important screening test for cervical cancer. Individuals who receive HPOV vaccine should still get their PAP smear at regular recommended intervals.

Is Booster Dose Recommended?

According to research till this date there is no need to give a booster dose of this vaccine.

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