Gardasil :: HPV vaccine now standard of care for Canadian women and girls

The Society of Gynecologic Oncologists of Canada (GOC) applauds the recommendation by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) that all Canadian girls and women aged 9 to 26 should be routinely vaccinated with GARDASIL to protect them against the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), the primary cause of cervical cancer.

The committee concluded that efficacy would be greatest in females between 9 and 13, before the onset of sexual intercourse, but females aged 14 to 26 would also benefit from GARDASIL(TM) even if they are sexually active, since it is unlikely that they will have been infected with all four HPV types in the vaccine. Females 14 to 26, who have had previous Pap abnormalities or have had genital warts or an HPV infection, should also be vaccinated.

Last year Health Canada approved GARDASIL(TM), a quadrivalent human papillomavirus (types 6, 11, 16, 18) recombinant vaccine. Studies have shown that the vaccine, which is available in Canada, is 100 per cent effective at preventing disease from the HPV types that account for 70 per cent of all cervical cancers and 90 per cent of genital warts. A second bivalent vaccine, which protects against HPV types 16 and 18, may also become available in Canada.

“Because of NACI’s position, vaccination against diseases caused by vaccine specific HPV types will now become the standard of care for cervical cancer prevention,” said Dr. Joan Murphy, Chair of the GOC Task Force on Cervical Cancer Prevention and Control. “Cervical cancer and its precursors remain a significant health problem for Canadian women and we call upon the provincial governments to rapidly implement vaccination as a cancer prevention strategy against HPV types known to cause the majority of cervical cancers.”

Three in four (75 per cent) Canadians will have at least one HPV infection in their lifetime. HPV is the primary cause of cervical cancer and is linked to vaginal, vulvar and anal cancers.

Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in Canadian women aged 20-44 after breast cancer. An estimated 1,400 women are newly diagnosed with cervical cancer each year and more than 400 women die because of it. In addition, approximately 220 Canadian women die from vulvar/vaginal cancer each year. In fact, Canada has among the highest reported rates of cancer of the vulva worldwide.

Each year the diagnoses and treatment of cervical dysplasia, cervical cancer and genital warts is estimated to cost more than $300 million to the Canadian health care system, which includes $244.5 million related to negative Pap tests and false positives.

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