Friday, March 23, 2007

TOP STORY >>Vaccine to prevent cervical cancer now available

By Maj. Deanna Bingham
314th Medical Group

Cervical cancer is a deadly disease, killing 4,500 women in the United States each year.

Screening for cervical cancer by Pap smear has long been standard procedure and has drastically reduced cervical cancer cases. However, it is the discovery of the Human Papilomavirus and its connection to cervical cancer that will lead to its virtual elimination.

The good news is there is vaccine, Gardasil, available that covers two of the most common high-risk HPV types linked to cervical cancer and two of the most common low-risk types that usually cause genital warts.

The 314th Medical Group has scheduled information sessions concerning the vaccine at 4:15 p.m. March 26, 27 and 28 Mar in Women's Health Clinic waiting area at the clinic. The Centers for Disease Control has approved Gardasil for females ages 9-26. The goal is to vaccinate females before they become sexually active. Effective vaccination requires a series of three small shots given over a six-month period. The vaccine is now available for females ages 9-26 at the Immunization Clinic in the 314th Medical Group Clinic. A written prescription is needed for administration. Depending on age, patients may stop by either the Pediatric Clinic or the Women's Health Clinic 7:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m. and 12:30-4 p.m. to pick up the prescription and proceed to the Immunizations Clinic. Clinic hours are 7 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Human Papilomavirus has more than 100 different strains. Some of these strains cause the "common wart" whereas others (approximately 30) cause genital infections including genital warts and cervical cancer. HPV is a very prevalent virus in the environment. Approximately 80 percent of females will have the virus at some point during their lifetime. Usually the virus is transient and the body cures itself. However, when the virus actively reproduces patients get genital warts or abnormal pap smears...and in the worst cases, deadly cervical cancer.

Women can decrease their risk of cervical cancer by stopping smoking, getting adequate exercise, eating a healthy diet, maintaining appropriate weight, limiting the number of sexual partners, using condoms and getting vaccinated.


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