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The last 20 years is one of the most remarkable periods in the fight against cancer, with the realization that some human papillomaviruses are causally related to cancer and with the development of the vaccine against human papillomavirus infections. This is a historical event in medicine and the prophylactic human papillomavirus vaccines have provided powerful tools for primary prevention of cervical cancer and other human papillomavirus-associated diseases. This is very important as human papillomavirus infection is probably the most common sexually transmitted infection worldwide, and over one million women develop associated cancer yearly, which is about 5% of all female cancers, and half of them die of their disease. Cancers associated with oncogenic human papillomaviruses, mostly HPV16 and 18, include cervical cancer (100%), anal cancer (95%), vulvar cancer (40%), vaginal cancer (60%), penile cancer (40%), and oro-pharingeal cancers (65%). In addition, pre-cancers such as genital warts and the rare recurrent respiratory papillomatosis are also preventable by vaccination. Currently, the human papillomavirus vaccines have the potential to significantly reduce the burden of human papillomavirus associated conditions, including prevention of up to 70% of cervical cancers. Two prophylactic human papillomavirus vaccines are currently available worldwide: a bivalent vaccine (types 16 and 18), and a quadrivalent vaccine (types 6, 11, 16, and 18). Randomized controlled trials conducted on several continents during the last 10 years have demonstrated that these vaccines are safe without serious side effects; they are highly immunogenic and efficacious in preventing incident and persistent vaccine-type human papillomavirus infections, high grade cervical, vulvar and vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia and so on. In addition, the quadrivalent vaccine has been shown to prevent genital warts in women and men. The vaccine is most effective when given to human papillomavirus naive girls. The human papillomavirus vaccines have been incorporated into national immunization programs in 22 European countries. Routine vaccination is recommended for girls aged between 9 and 13 years and catch-up vaccination for females between 13 and 25 years of age. There is no excuse not to incorporate the vaccines into the Hungarian national immunization program. Albeit vaccination is expensive, it is cost-effective in the long run definitely. Anyway, vaccination is a matter of the specialty and the national health program, but not of business. We all are obliged to prevent human suffering.

Citation

Péter Bősze. The first vaccine against cancer: the human papillomavirus vaccine]. Orvosi hetilap. 2013 Apr 21;154(16):603-18

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PMID: 23587540

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