New Cervical Cancer Vaccine Guidelines
American Cancer Society Differs From Other Groups on Vaccinating Women Over 18
Not for Those Over 26
Currently, there are no HPV vaccine studies on women over age 26. The FDA
has approved Gardasil only for girls and women age 9 to 26.
Also, there is not enough evidence to say whether booster shots will be
needed throughout a woman's life.
NYU's Blank says it's important to note that while most cervical
cancer cancer is related to HPV,
not all HPV infections -- even those caused by strains 16 and 18 -- will result
in cervical cancer.
"Most HPV infections, even potentially carcinogenic ones, resolve or become
undetected in a year or less," says Blank. Many women never even know they were
Moreover, she says, even persistent HPV infections don't always progress to
According to the ACS report, 75% of all low-grade lesions, and up to 90% of
high-grade lesions, resolve without treatment -- and never go on to cause
When cancer does occur, the process involves several steps that could take
as long as 20 years. But, in most cancers, those steps begin with HPV infection
-- one reason doctors are hopeful vaccinating women at a young age will pay
"If you can vaccinate a woman before she becomes sexually active, you will
help knock out step one -- HPV acquisition -- and that hopefully means knocking
out cervical cancer," says Einstein.
As good as that sounds, Einstein adds that it will take many years before we
learn whether or not the vaccine will be that effective.