Doc Talk: HPV vaccine
KALAMAZOO, Mich. —
Cervical cancer can be treated if it's caught early and doctors say there is a vaccine that could help prevent a cancer-causing virus that affects both men and women.
Newschannel 3's Erica Mokay talked with doctors about the Human Papillomavirus or HPV, which studies show causes cervical cancer and other types of cancer.
Doctors suggest a vaccine to be one step ahead of the disease. The HPV vaccine is approved by the FDA and is usually given to girls and boys around 11- or 12-years-old.
A commercial about the vaccine may be familiar, but, for some, the message may be unclear.
Borgess OBGYN Dr. Elise Simpson said, “If somebody could give you a vaccine to prevent, you know, lung cancer or heart failure everyone would be jumping in line for it. So, it's super important that we get everyone on board with this.”
Simpson is talking about the Gardicil shot, which is a series of three shots. She says it introduces the body to certain strains of HPV, so the body can recognize it and fight it off later.
Simpson said, “A lot of people feel a little bit hesitant to give their child the HPV vaccine, they think maybe it will encourage sexual promiscuity and in all reality. You’re helping protect your child from cancer.”
HPV can cause cervical cancer and other types of cancers Simpson says the virus is also very common. In fact, 79 million Americans have it, but not all cases will lead to cancer, which is why she says for women annual pap smears are important.
Simpson said, “We're able to catch on right in the beginning if we can, what is abnormal and really intervene, tell you steps that you can do to just try and clear it before it ever gets to cancer.”
The virus and shot are not exclusive to women. Simpson says it's just as important men to be proactive, too.
She said, “Men are actually carrying HPV, so when they have intercourse with other women or men, they are passing it to those partners.”
The Gardicil shot could cause headaches, fever, nausea or irritation at the injection site. It's also important to note that even if you get the shot.
Simpson says you should still get the recommended cervical cancer screening.