Is Cervical Cancer Vaccine Necessary?

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Cervical Cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths in India. It is also the third most common cancer in women around the world. All cancers are scary. But some cancers are highly treatable. Cervical cancer, if caught early through routine screenings and vaccination, is one of those. It is observed that most cervical cancers are caused by a sexually transmitted infection.

The human papillomavirus (HPV) is central to the development of cervical cancer, and HPV infections are very common. This chronic infection can cause precancerous changes in cells and ultimately progress to cervical cancer. The HPV vaccine gives women a better chance of protecting themselves from cervical cancer. Not all women with an HPV infection will develop cervical cancer. In the majority of people with a healthy immune system, the body might spontaneously clear the infection. Sometimes, the infection does not go away and remains persistent.

Types of cervical cancer vaccines

There are various strains of HPVs that spread through sexual contact and cause cervical cancer. There are cervical cancer vaccines for both men and women. They prevent most cases of cervical cancer if given before the girl or woman is exposed to the virus. Vaccinating boys or men against HPV can also help in protecting women from the virus by possibly decreasing the transmission.

Age group for the vaccine

The vaccines are a series of three injections over a period of six months. The second dose follows after 1 or 2 months of the first dose and the third dose is given after 6 months. It is important to give it to girls and boys before they have any sexual contact and get exposed to HPV. Girls/women 15 years of age and older, as well as those who are immuno-compromised like living with HIV, require 3 doses. Once infected with HPV, the vaccine is not effective. The World Health Organization recommends the vaccine for all girls between 9 and 13 years, as the vaccine is highly immunogenic at this age. Only two doses of the vaccine administered at a 6 to 12-month interval are enough to protect girls under 15.

Who should not get vaccinated?

The HPV vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women, but if the vaccine is unknowingly administered during pregnancy, it is not necessary to become excessively worried. However, the remaining doses should be delayed until the completion of the pregnancy. If there has been a life-threatening allergy or if you are allergic to certain substances, you should not get the vaccine. Cervical cancer vaccine should not be given to people who are severely ill.

Side effects & health risks

Side effects are usually mild and very rare. It includes soreness at the site of injection (the arm), headaches, and fever. There may be some dizziness or fainting but remaining seated for at least 20 minutes reduces the risk of fainting. There may be nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain in some cases.

If you are not in the age group for the vaccine, you should protect yourself with condoms every time you have sexual activity. Even though vaccination at the right age offers protection, screening is still necessary to pick up abnormalities caused by other HPV virus subtypes that could lead to cervical cancer. Vaccination and screening can together lead to a substantial reduction in the risk of cervical cancer. We recommend women to go for regular screening for early detection of cervical cancer symptoms and address it to enjoy a complete life. Prashanth Institute for Oncology comprises a highly skilled and experienced team of top oncologists in Chennai. Book an appointment with the best oncologists in Chennai at Prashanth Hospitals.