Skip to content

    Children's Vaccines Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Gardasil Approved to Target More Cancers

    FDA Expands HPV Vaccine Gardasil to Prevent Certain Cancers of the Vulva and Vagina
    By
    WebMD Health News
    Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

    Sept. 12, 2008 -- The FDA today announced that the vaccine Gardasil may be used to prevent some cancers of the vulva and vagina in girls and women ages 9-26.

    Gardasil is already approved to help prevent a leading cause of cervical cancer in women of that same age range.

    Gardasil targets four strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) that cause most cases of cervical cancer. Two of those HPV strains can also cause some vulvar and vaginal cancers.

    "There is now strong evidence showing that this vaccine can help prevent vulvar and vaginal cancers due to the same viruses for which it also helps protect against cervical cancer," Jesse L. Goodman, MD, MPH, director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, says in a news release.

    "While vulvar and vaginal cancers are rare, the opportunity to help prevent them is potentially an important additional benefit from immunization against HPV," Goodman says.

    Gardasil and HPV

    Gardasil first gained FDA approval in 2006 for use in girls and women aged 9-26 to help prevent cervical cancer, precancerous genital lesions, and genital warts.

    The CDC recommends Gardasil for all girls aged 11-12. Girls can get Gardasil when they're as young as 9. If they miss vaccination at ages 11-12, they can get vaccinated by age 26.

    To be most effective, Gardasil should be given before a girl becomes sexually active. There are more than 100 strains of the HPV virus, and more than 30 of those strains can be spread through sex. According to the CDC, HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S, with some 6 million Americans becoming infected with genital HPV each year.

    HPV doesn't always cause cervical cancer. For most women, the body's own defense system will clear HPV, preventing serious health problems. But some HPV types can cause abnormal cell growth in areas of the cervix, vagina, vulva, and other areas that years later may turn into cancer.

    Men can also carry HPV. But Gardasil isn't approved for use in men.

    Gardasil vs. Vulvar, Vaginal Cancers

    The FDA approved Gardasil to help prevent vulvar and vaginal cancers based on a follow-up report from Merck, the drug company that makes Gardasil, on more than 15,000 participants from Gardasil's original studies.

    Today on WebMD

    Baby getting vaccinated
    Is there a link? Get the facts.
    syringes and graph illustration
    Get a customized vaccine schedule.
     
    baby getting a vaccine
    Know the benefits and the risk
    nurse holding syringe in front of girl
    Should your child have it?
     

    What To Know About The HPV Vaccine
    Article
    24 Kid Illnesses Parents Should Know
    Slideshow
     
    Nausea and Vomiting Remedies Slideshow
    Article
    Managing Immunization Schedules For Kids
    Video
     

    Doctor administering vaccine to toddler
    Video
    gloved hand holding syringe
    Article
     
    infant receiving injection
    Tool
    pills
    Quiz
     

    WebMD Special Sections