Cervical Cancer Vaccine

Health: Cervical Cancer, woman's upper torso, caduceus
About 6 million Americans are diagnosed each year with HPV, which can cause cervical cancer, and is among the most common sexually transmitted diseases. The FDA has approved Gardasil, a vaccine that targets the virus responsible for most cervical cancers.

What Is Cervical Cancer?

Cancer of the cervix (also known as cervical cancer) begins in the lining of the cervix. Cervical cancers do not form suddenly. Normal cervical cells gradually develop pre-cancerous changes that turn into cancer.

There are 2 main types of cervical cancers: squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. Cervical cancers and cervical precancers are classified by how they look under a microscope.

How Many People Are Diagnosed Each Year With Cervical Cancer?

In the United States, about 14,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer disease each year and more than 3,900 women die in the U.S. each year from this disease, according to the National Cervical Cancer Coalition.

Women in developing countries account for about 85 percent of both the yearly cases of cervical cancer (estimated at 493,000 cases worldwide) and the yearly deaths from cervical cancer (estimated at 273,500 deaths worldwide).

How Effective Is The Vaccine?

Studies have shown 100 percent effectiveness in protecting against infection with HPV-16 and HPV-18 strains in people who had not been previously exposed to the virus.

How Many States Require The Vaccine?

21 states and the District of Columbia that have introduced legislation that would put HPV on the school shot sheet along with smallpox and measles shots.

Will Insurance Companies Cover The Vaccine?

Some major health insurers including Aetna, Cigna and Wellpoint say they are already covering Gardasil. But others insurance companies are reviewing it right now and decisions are expected in three to six months. Most insurance plans will probably cover the vaccines unless they are plans that specifically exclude vaccinations in general.

Who Can Get The Vaccine?

The FDA has licensed the vaccine for individuals 9-26. They will be routinely recommended for children 11-12 and also recommended for children 13-26 as a catch up program. Pediatricians can also decide if it is the best interest of children as young as 9 to get the vaccine.

Learn More About Cervical Cancer:

WebMD has a helpful Q & A about cervical cancer.

• Catch up on the latest developments on the National Cervical Cancer Connection site.

National Cancer Institute