Cancer Vaccine Works Long Term
Vaccine Protects Against Virus That Causes Cervical Cancer
WebMD News Archive
There are still many unanswered questions, most notably who will get the
vaccine, when they will be vaccinated, and which vaccine they will get.
The GlaxoSmithKline vaccine protects against cervical
cancer alone, while the Merck vaccine also targets two HPV viruses that
cause genital warts.
But Harper says her findings suggest that the GlaxoSmithKline vaccine may
protect women against cervical cancer longer than its competitor.
Harper directs the Gynecologic Cancer Prevention Research Group at Dartmouth
Medical School's Norris Cotton Cancer Center. The study was funded by
GlaxoSmithKline, but she says she has also done research on the Merck vaccine.
GlaxoSmithKline and Merck are WebMD sponsors.
"I'm not trying to pick a fight and say one vaccine is better than the
other," she says. "These are both good vaccines, but it is clear that
there are real differences between them."
If, as expected, the FDA approves the Merck vaccine in early June, the CDC's
Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is expected to weigh in on who
should be vaccinated at its meeting later that month.
It may recommend that preteen girls be given the vaccine, or it may
recommend the vaccine for girls in their teens.
HPV infection rates peak among women in their late teens and very early 20s,
"Stay tuned for June," American Cancer Society Director of Breast
and Gynecological Cancer Debbie Saslow, PhD, tells WebMD. "There are a lot
of groups interested in having a voice in how this vaccine is used."
Some conservative groups have been vocally opposed to the vaccine, arguing
that it could undermine efforts to discourage sex among teens.
Saslow says other conservative groups have expressed support for the
vaccine, although they don't want it to be among the immunizations that schools
The Developing World
Immunization strategies for nonindustrialized countries, where 80% of
cervical cancer deaths occur, remain to be determined.
In the U.S, the vaccine is expected to cost between $200 and $300 for a
three-dose series, although the companies have not said how much they will
charge, according to Saslow.
Projections are that without the vaccine, cervical cancer deaths in the
developing world will rise dramatically in the coming decades.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged $50 million for the
prevention of cervical cancer in the coming decades, but it is not clear how
big a role vaccination will play in its efforts.