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New Vaccine Protects Women from Cervical Cancer for Four Years

According to a study by the University of Washington, a new vaccine can prevent cervical cancer for at least four years. The vaccine works by blocking the most common strain of the human papilloma virus (HPV), which is believed to cause half of all cases of cervical cancer. Some 15,000 women in the US contract cervical cancer each year and one-third die from the disease, according to the Los Angeles Times. Worldwide, there are 470,000 new cases of cervical cancer each year, and 225,000 women die from cervical cancer each year, mostly in poorer countries, according to the National Cervical Cancer Coalition. The University of Washington study involved 2,400 women. Of those who received the placebo, 111 developed infections and 12 developed precancerous lesions; of those who received the vaccine, only seven women developed infections and no women developed lesions, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. If approved, the vaccine will be recommended for young adults and children before they become sexually active. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the nation, with younger women at greater risk, according to the Post-Intelligencer. The vaccine was developed by Merck Laboratories, which will apply for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval late next year, according to the LA Times. Merck is also testing a version of the vaccine that would protect against four strains of HPV that together cause 80 percent of cervical cancer cases and 90 percent of genital warts. DONATE to the Feminist Majority Foundation’s Campaign for Women’s Health and Mifepristone

Sources:

LA Times 11/2/04; NY Times 11/2/04; Seattle Post-Intelligencer 11/2/04; National Cervical Cancer Coalition 11/16/2004

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