HPV cancer usually has no symptoms until it is advanced, very serious and hard to treat, the CDC says. That’s why vaccination and screening are important.
The HPV vaccine, Gardasil 9, was previously recommended for ages 9-26. According to cancer.gov, Gardasil 9 is the only HPV vaccine available for use in the United States.
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The FDA's approval of expanding the vaccine is based on a study of 3,200 women ages 27-45. The study found Gardasil to be 88 percent effective "in the prevention of a combined endpoint of persistent infection, genital warts, vulvar and vaginal precancerous lesions, cervical precancerous lesions, and cervical cancer related to HPV types covered by the vaccine," the FDA said in a press release.
“Today’s approval represents an important opportunity to help prevent HPV-related diseases and cancers in a broader age range,” Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in the release. ”The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that HPV vaccination prior to becoming infected with the HPV types covered by the vaccine has the potential to prevent more than 90 percent of these cancers, or 31,200 cases every year, from ever developing.”
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The vaccine won’t work on any HPV strain already infecting a person, but it can prevent the person from contracting the other strains. This is why the FDA recommends the vaccine for preteens and teens who are not yet sexually active.