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Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine (Gardasil®)

HPV vaccine

Brand Names: Gardasil®, Silgard®, Cervarix®

The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is used to prevent infection by HPV strains 16 and 18, which causes most cancers of the cervix, as well as some cancers of the vulva, vagina and penis. Infection with HPV strain 16 also causes most anal cancers and some throat cancers.

This vaccine, given to young men and women ages 9 through 26, prevents pre-cancerous changes that may become cancer. HPV vaccination is currently recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for all boys and girls ages 11 or 12, and for men and women ages 13 through 26 who have not already received the vaccine or have not completed booster shots.

Depending on the specific vaccine used, it may also prevent genital warts caused by other strains of HPV. This vaccine will not cure an HPV infection that is already present, and does not prevent other sexually transmitted diseases.

The HPV vaccine is given as a series of three injections into the muscle in the upper arm or thigh. The first shot may be given any time beginning at 9 years of age. The second dose is given 2 months after the first shot, and the third dose is given 6 months after the first shot. The protective effects of the vaccine last for approximately 5 years. Whether or not a booster is needed after five years is not yet known.

HPV vaccine side effects

To prevent problematic interactions between the HPV vaccine and other drugs, be sure to tell your doctor if you are allergic to any medications, and what other medications and supplements you are currently taking. You should also inform your doctor if you have or a weak immune system, any blood or bleeding disorders, or any signs of infection, if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, or if you are breastfeeding.

Possible side effects of the human papillomavirus vaccine may include:

  • Pain, swelling, redness, bruising or itching where the shot was given
  • Mild fever
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Sleepiness or insomnia
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Runny or stuffy nose, sore throat or cough
  • Tooth, joint, or muscle pain

Some of the HPV vaccine’s side effects can be serious. Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • Severe stomach pain
  • Swollen glands
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Confusion
  • Unusual weakness
  • Fever, chills, body aches
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath

Please note that this is not a comprehensive list. Patients may experience additional effects not mentioned above.

At Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), your team of cancer experts will explain each of the side effects of the HPV vaccine with you in detail, as well as the side effects and expectations of all other medications planned as part of your individualized treatment plan.

HPV vaccine for cancer treatment

The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine may be used to prevent:

  • Infection with HPV strains 16 and 18, which cause most cancers of the cervix, as well as some cancers of the vulva, vagina and penis.
  • Infection with HPV strain 16, which also causes most anal cancers and some throat cancers.

Most HPV infections go away and never cause cancer or any other symptoms. In some cases, infections with high-risk HPV strains persist and cause cell abnormalities, which can develop into cancer.

At Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), our integrative approach to cancer treatment works to fight your disease on all fronts and ensures that you remain at the center of everything we do. We encourage participation from both you and your family to make certain you are comfortable with all decisions made regarding your treatment.

The information provided here is for educational purposes only. In no way should it be considered as offering medical advice. Cancer Treatment Centers of America assumes no responsibility for how this material is used. Please check with a physician if you suspect you are ill. Also note that while Cancer Treatment Centers of America frequently updates its contents, medical information changes rapidly. Therefore, some information may be out of date.

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