Cervical Cancer Vaccine on the Way
Study Says Vaccine Also Prevents Genital Warts
100% Protective Against Disease continued...
Both Merck and GlaxoSmithKline have begun much larger trials of their
respective vaccines. Villa tells WebMD that early results from Merck's
investigation are expected later this year. If the trials go well, the company
hopes to introduce the vaccine late in 2006, she says.
Most experts agree that the vaccine will have the most impact if given to
young girls in countries that don't screen for cervical cancer and before they
become sexually active.
But its impact in the U.S. and other developed nations, where cervical
cancer rates are low due to screening, is unclear, says Debbie Saslow, PhD,
director of breast and gynecological cancers for the American Cancer
The vaccine will not replace Pap smears, she says, because the vaccine does
not protect against about a dozen HPV strains that cause between 25% and 30% of
cervical cancers. And there is some concern that vaccinating against the two
major cervical cancer agents will lead to an increase in these other
"This vaccine could have a huge impact if you could vaccinate young
girls in countries that don't have routine cervical cancer screening,"
Saslow tells WebMD. "But these are the countries that are going to be least
able to afford it. And within the U.S. it isn't likely that people who are not
being screened will get vaccinated."
Saslow says the vaccine has a lot of potential, but there are a lot of
unanswered questions about its use.
"Even if this vaccine isn't perfect, it is still very exciting to think
that within a few years we may have one that really can prevent all cervical
cancers," she says.