The Food and Drug Administration has just approved a
vaccine that helps protect against anal cancer in men
and women by targeting the human papillomavirus (HPV).
About 90 percent of anal cancers are believed to be
caused by HPV, and the vaccination also helps prevent
cancer of the cervix, vagina, vulva, penis, and throat,
as well as the development of genital warts.
This cancer vaccine is a genuine medical breakthrough
-- yet few people have received the HPV vaccine. Despite
strong recommendations by the U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention, only about one in 10 young adult
American women have been vaccinated against HPV.
According to a study published in the journal BMC Women's
Health, fewer than one-third of women between 19 and 26
who had not gotten the vaccine thought it was important,
and about as many had discussed it with their doctor.
Almost half were ambivalent about getting the HPV
The study found that women had various reasons for not
getting the vaccine, including being in a monogamous
relationship (55 percent); concern that the vaccine is
unproven (35 percent), and concern over side effects
Cost is also a significant impediment; the two vaccines,
Gardasil and Cervarix, each cost about $120 per dose and
require three doses. Health insurance companies may or may
not cover the cost, but, doctors note, it’s a relatively
small price to pay compared to getting cancer.