HPV Vaccines

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What are the benefits of the HPV vaccines?

Both vaccines prevent the 2 types of HPV that cause most cervical cancers (HPV types 16 and 18). Cervarix seems to offer protection against some other high-risk types, too. It has also has been found to help protect against HPV infection of the mouth and throat. Gardasil has been shown to prevent anal, vulvar, and vaginal cancers related to these 2 types of HPV. It also protects against the 2 types of HPV that cause most genital warts (HPV types 6 and 11).

The vaccines only work in people who have not already been exposed to these types of HPV. The vaccines will not prevent HPV in those who have already had these HPV types.

It’s possible that the vaccines could also prevent some other HPV-related cancers, including some cancers of the penis and head and neck areas. It will be some time before studies can prove whether they will help prevent these cancers.

Is the American Cancer Society in favor of vaccinating against HPV?

Yes. The Society has been involved in providing reliable and unbiased information to the public and to health care providers. The Society emphasizes the ongoing need to follow screening guidelines, such as getting regular Pap tests and HPV tests to find cervical cancers and pre-cancers early, and the critical need to ensure that the vaccines are available to the medically underserved.

Last Medical Review: 04/09/2014
Last Revised: 04/22/2014