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How Effective is Gardasil?

New Study Show Gardasil to Be Highly Effective

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Updated May 16, 2007

The results of two follow-up studies involving the HPV vaccine, Gardasil, are in. Both studies, titled Future I and Future II were featured in the May 10th, 2007, edition of The New England Journal of Medicine.

Gardasil is a vaccine that is designed to prevent two strains of the human papillomavirus known to cause cervical cancer (HPV-16 and HPV-18) and two strains known to cause genital warts (HPV-6 and HPV-11). It is currently available to girls as young as nine years of age, but the target age is 11 to 12. The vaccine can be given up until 26 years of age.

What Did the Studies Find?

Here are some key findings from both of the Future I and Future II studies:

  • Gardasil was nearly 100 percent effective in preventing precancerous cervical lesions caused by the the strains that Gardasil protects against. (It provides protection against two strains known to cause 70 percent of all cervical cancers and two strains known to cause 90 percent of all warts.)

  • Future I studies found that Gardasil is also highly effective in preventing precancerous lesions that occur on or in the vagina, anus, and vulva.

  • Gardasil's effectiveness increased when given to girls and young women before they become sexually active.

  • Gardasil is less effective in preventing precancerous lesions in women already exposed to HPV strains 16 and 18, since you cannot vaccinate against an infection that is already present.

What Does This Mean For You?

The findings of both studies support the use of the HPV vaccine, especially when given to young women before they become sexually active. Gardasil is extremely effective in preventing several (but not all) of the strains of HPV known to cause cervical cancer and genital warts. Therefore, Pap smears are still necessary.




Sources:

The Future II Study Group, "Quadrivalent Vaccine against Human Papillomavirus to Prevent High-Grade Cervical Lesions." New England Journal of Medicine Vol. 356, No. 19: 1915-1927 May 10, 2007. [

Suzanne M. Garland, M.D., Mauricio Hernandez-Avila, M.D., Cosette M. Wheeler, Ph.D., Gonzalo Perez, M.D., Diane M. Harper, M.D., M.P.H., Sepp Leodolter, M.D., Grace W.K. Tang, M.D., Daron G. Ferris, M.D., Marc Steben, M.D., Janine Bryan, Ph.D., Frank J. Taddeo, Ph.D., Radha Railkar, Ph.D., Mark T. Esser, Ph.D., Heather L. Sings, Ph.D., Micki Nelson, B.S., John Boslego, M.D., Carlos Sattler, M.D., Eliav Barr, M.D., Laura A. Koutsky, Ph.D."Quadrivalent Vaccine against Human Papillomavirus to Prevent Anogenital Diseases." New England Journal of Medicine Vol. 356, No. 19:1928-1943. May 10, 2007.

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