Gardasil is a vaccine given in 3 doses and it costs about $375. To date, about 1 in 4 girls have taken the vaccine, whose recommendations have been "to prevent deadly cervical cancers (and more recently vulvar/vaginal cancers) in women." Seventy percent of these cancers tend to be cause by 2 strains of HPV, both of which the vaccine covers. The recommended age group to receive the vaccine is girls ages 9-26. HPV is epidemic, carried by men and transferred through sexual contact. The vaccine to date was not recommended for men, since it did not seem to protect them from disease (especially cancers of the penis).
A new Merck study that involved 4000 men ages 16-26 (1000 men from US) in 20 countries reveals that the vaccine does indeed seem to prevent genital warts, an uncomfortable and distressing disease. The disease is not associated with mortality, however, it can be extremely difficult to treat and it can recur. In the study, the vaccine had a 90% prevention rate AND in diminished th number of cases of persistent infection in those who still developed the warts. Now, whether or not parents of male teens will be willing to pay for a vaccine that simply prevents an "uncomfortable contion," is not clear. Merck may have some further data to present, in time, on the vaccine's impact on pre-cancerous lesions.
It should be noted that 20,000 cases of cancer related to HPV occur yearly and at least 5,000 of those cases involve men. HPV is implicated in cervical, vulvar, vaginal cancers as well as cancer of the penis, anus, head (oral) and neck.
Published On: November 13, 2008