Use of cer­vi­cal can­cer vac­cine ex­panded

Albany Times Union - Sunday - - NATION / WORLD -

U.S. reg­u­la­tors Fri­day ex­panded the use of Merck’s cer­vi­cal can­cer vac­cine to adults up to age 45.

The vac­cine was pre­vi­ously only for pre­teens and young adults through 26. The Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion ap­proved Gar­dasil 9 for women and men through 45.

The vac­cine pro­tects against the hu­man pa­pil­loma virus — or HPV — which can cause cer­vi­cal can­cer, cer­tain other can­cers and gen­i­tal warts. The virus is very com­mon and is spread through sex. In most cases, HPV doesn’t cause any prob­lems, but some in­fec­tions per­sist and even­tu­ally lead to can­cer.

The Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion es­ti­mates about 14 mil­lion peo­ple be­come newly in­fected with HPV each year, mostly teens and young adults.

Gar­dasil was orig­i­nally ap­proved for girls in 2006 and later for boys — partly to re­duce the spread of HPV to girls. While Gar­dasil was ap­proved for ages 9 through 26, the shots are es­pe­cially rec­om­mended for boys and girls at 11 or 12, be­fore they first have sex and could get in­fected. About half of U.S. teens now have had two or three doses.

The lat­est ver­sion of Gar­dasil pro­tects against nine strains of HPV, four more than the orig­i­nal.

Ac­cord­ing to the CDC, each year about 33,700 women and men are di­ag­nosed with a can­cer caused by an HPV in­fec­tion, in­clud­ing 12,000 women with cer­vi­cal can­cer, which kills about 4,000 an­nu­ally.

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