Posts Tagged ‘
cervical cancer ’
Thursday, March 28th, 2013
The vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause cervical cancer among other ailments, is in the news again after a survey published in the journal Pediatrics announced that the overwhelming majority of girls have not received the vaccine despite the urging of major medical groups. The New York Times has more:
Just 35 percent of girls 13 to 17 have received a full course of the vaccine, which inoculates against the strains of human papillomavirus that can cause cervical cancer, according to 2011 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And a study in Pediatrics this month, also based on C.D.C. data, says the intent to vaccinate is declining: 44 percent of parents in 2010 said they did not intend to vaccinate, up from 40 percent in 2008.
Alarmed by the stubbornly low rates, doctors and federal health officials are brainstorming about how to get more children vaccinated.
“Behind these numbers are people who will develop cervical cancer that could have been prevented,” said Dr. Bruce Gellin, director of the National Vaccine Program Office at the Department of Health and Human Services. At a meeting in Washington last month, federal and local officials, doctors and other health workers explored ways to make the shots more accessible. Some suggested giving the first of the three doses required to complete the vaccine at a doctor’s office and the other two at schools or pharmacies.
Others argued for a greater emphasis on cancer prevention, playing down the fact that the vaccine prevents a sexually transmitted disease. The STD link has put off many parents who are loath to talk about sex with their children.
Image: Girl getting a shot, via Shutterstock
Wednesday, October 24th, 2012
Most women only need Pap smears, the most common screening test for cervical cancer, every 3 to 5 years, according to a new set of guidelines by the nation’s largest OB-GYN association. The Associated Press has more:
Many medical groups have long recommended a Pap test every three years for most women. The new advice from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that’s true for women ages 21 to 29 whose Paps show no sign of trouble.
But for healthy women ages 30 to 65, the preferred check is a Pap plus a test for the cancer-causing HPV virus, the group concluded. If both show everything’s fine, they can wait five years for further screening.
The guidelines from the nation’s largest OB-GYN organization agree with advice issued earlier this year by a government panel, the American Cancer Society and other medical groups — showing growing consensus that it’s safe for the right women to wait longer between Paps.
Cervical cancer grows so slowly that regular Pap smears, which examine cells scraped from the cervix, can find signs early enough to treat before a tumor even forms.
Image: Gynecologist, via Shutterstock
Tuesday, March 20th, 2012
Women between ages 21 and 65 should only receive Pap smear tests, which screen for abnormalities in the cervix, every 3-5 years, rather than every year. This is the message of two separate sets of recommendations released last week by the US Preventive Services Task Force and the American Cancer Society.
The new recommendation impacts not only women’s health in general, but parents whose daughters have received the HPV vaccine against some types of cervical cancers. For one thing, the new recommendations suggest that girls begin receiving Pap tests at age 21, rather than age 18 as was previously the norm. Girls who received the HPV vaccine still need to receive Pap smears every 3-5 years, though.
The Boston Globe’s health blog has more:
While previous versions of the guidelines urged screenings every two or three years in women over 30, enough evidence has accumulated from recent studies to take a strong stance against yearly screenings in younger adults too. “Screening every three years is equally effective at finding cancers as annual screening, but it may be safer since it results in fewer false positive tests and fewer unnecessary treatments that could be harmful,” said Dr. Wanda Nicholson, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill, who served on the committee that wrote the task force’s recommendations.
Women whose Pap smears are abnormal often undergo cervical biopsies, which can involve anxiety and discomfort. Repeated biopsies can weaken the cervix, raising the risk of miscarriages and premature births in women who later become pregnant. Reducing screenings from annually to every three years can cut the rate of biopsies in half, according to the American Cancer Society, without increasing the death rate from cervical cancer, which kills about 12,000 American women each year.
A similar rationale was used to determine that women should avoid screening until age 21. Many young women get HPV infections more frequently than the flu and these infections “tend to be transient and clear on their own without treatment,” said Dr. Sarah Feldman, director of Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Pap Smear Evaluation Center.
Image: Speculum with Pap smear swab, via Shutterstock.
Tuesday, October 25th, 2011
An advisory panel to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is considering a new recommendation that would add human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines to the immunizations boys receive as a standard of care. The vaccine is already given to girls between ages 9 and 26 as a way to prevent cervical cancers, genital warts, and other health concerns associated with the sexually-transmitted virus.
CNN.com reports on the reasoning behind the potential new policy:
Part of the push now is because girls aren’t getting vaccinated in the numbers doctors expected. “If the boys are also immunized, it reduces the transmission back and forth,” says Schaffner.
By receiving the vaccine, boys will also be protected against cancers of the penis and rectum. Also, there is growing evidence of HPV causing the recent increase in head and neck cancer. A study released earlier this month found approximately 70% of all oropharyngeal cancers are caused by HPV infection. The HPV vaccine protects against both, says Schaffner.
Earlier this year, the American Academy of Pediatrics began including the HPV vaccine on its list of recommended vaccines for boys.
Friday, August 26th, 2011
Just under half of American teenage girls have gotten even one dose of the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine, a new Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report says, and only one-third have received all three doses required to establish immunity against the sexually-transmitted virus, which can cause cervical cancer.
A CDC doctor told The Associated Press that the low vaccination rates are “very disappointing,” especially considering that around two-thirds of girls have received other recommended vaccines, including meningitis, tetanus, whooping cough, and diphtheria. The CDC’s Dr. Melinda Wharton attributed the low HPV vaccination rate to the expense of the shot, plus poor public education about its value and intention
“If we don’t do a much better job, we’re leaving another generation vulnerable to cervical cancer later in life,” Wharton told the AP. Further:
Girls are supposed to start the series when they are 11 or 12 — before most girls become sexually active. The vaccine only works if a girl is vaccinated before she’s first exposed to the virus.
But some parents may misunderstand, thinking their daughters don’t need it at such a young age because they aren’t sexually active. Others may believe that it would require a discussion about sex and sexuality — a talk they may not feel ready to have, some experts said.
The government needs to be more aggressive about changing those perceptions with a major education campaign, Jeff Levi, executive director of the Trust for America’s Health, a Washington, D.C.-based research group, said in a statement.
(image via: http://www.impactlab.net)