Dr. Soliman describes the differences between the available human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines and discusses the safety of the vaccines.
There’s currently two FDA-approved HPV vaccines.
The first vaccine Gardasil which is made by Merck was FDA-approved in 2006. The vaccine itself is targeted against four different strains in the HPV.
So when you look at the HPV virus there’s really over a hundred different subtypes of the virus.
What we know is that HPV-6 and -11 are the most common cause for general warts and then HPV-16 and -18 are the ones that most commonly are associated with cervical cancer.
The Gardasil vaccine actually prevents infection from all four of these strains. So the goal of the vaccine is not only to prevent cancer but also to prevent general warts.
The second vaccine Cervarix was recently FDA-approved last year. That’s made by GlaxoSmithKline.
This vaccine is what we call a bivalent vaccine so it really only targets HPV-16 and -18 and the primary goal of this vaccine is really to prevent cervical cancer.
Knowing that there’s two available vaccines one thing that I often get asked is which one is the best one, or which one is most appropriate for me.
At this time we don’t really know which one is better. I think the benefit of getting the Gardasil vaccine is it does help decrease your risk for general warts but Cervarix, based on the studies may actually last a little bit longer in the prevention of cervical cancer.
So I think there’s probably benefits to either vaccine and at this point it’s not really clear is one better or does it offer more benefit than the other.
As far as we know in the studies that have been done, which have been done on really thousands of women and boys between the ages of 11 and 26 overall it’s thought to be a very safe vaccine.
In the patients that have received the vaccine probably the most common side effect is just discomfort from the injection itself and there haven’t been any reports of any long-term bad outcomes related to the vaccine as of now.
Dr. Pamela T. Soliman, M.D., M.P.H.:
Dr. Pamela T. Soliman, M.D., M.P.H., is Assistant Professor in the Department of Gynecologic Oncology, Division of Surgery, at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Dr. Soliman earned her medical degree from the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond and she earned her master of public health from The University of Texas Health Science Center Houston.