Gardasil, the first ever vaccine against the cervical cancer-causing human papillomavirus (HPV) - that's genital warts to you and me - has been approved by the FDA.
The article is well worth a read, if only for the following fascinating facts:
- HPV is still the second-most-common malignancy and a leading cancer killer of women worldwide.
- A quarter of people ages 15 to 24 are infected with HPV.
- The lifetime risk of becoming infected at least once with a cancer-causing HPV type is more than 80%.
In the Q&A there's an interesting discussion about whether boys should be vaccinated too.
"In men, HPV causes genital warts and has been linked to penile and anal cancer. Plus, of course, men can transmit HPV to women. Merck has tested Gardasil's safety and immune response in 9- to 15-year-old boys and found that they have a slightly better immune response than girls and women, Barr says. "What we don't know yet is whether the vaccine will protect against infection and disease caused by HPV in young men," he says. To answer that question, Merck is conducting a clinical trial in men as old as 26 and expects to complete it in 2008, Barr says."
Color me naive, but I never knew HPV could give men cancer too. Anal cancer.
I'm clenching my buttocks at the mere thought of it.