Cervical Vaccine | Importance, Age & Cervical Cancer Stages
Cervical Vaccine or HPV vaccine helps to develop immunity by initiating a mild infection. This type of infection does not cause illness, but it does trigger the body’s immune system to produce antibodies to protect against any future infections.
Cervical Cancer Vaccine Age
Cervical Vaccine should administer before starting of sexual activity to avail the full benefit of the vaccine.
The WHO recommends that vaccination age of HPV vaccine should between 9 and 13 years, and young women till the age of 26 should get the vaccine if they did not receive any or missed the doses when they were younger.
Gardasil is also provided the approved vaccine for use in males between aged 11 and 26. Gardasil is also recommended by CDC for all boys aged 11 or 12 years, and for males 13 through 21 years of age who did not receive the full three vaccination series.
The extended age for men to receive the vaccine is up to 26. To know better why these vaccines are necessary, let us know first- what is Cervical Cancer?
What Is Cervical Cancer?
Cancer starts when the body begins abnormal growth of cells. Cervical cancer starts when these abnormal cells growths are at the lining of the cervix — the lower part of the uterus (womb).
This is also called the uterine cervix. The fetus grows in the upper part of the uterus. The cervix is the part that connects the uterus to the vagina (birth canal).
The cervix has two different parts and is covered with two different types of cells.
- ENDOCERVIX: The part that closest to the uterus is called the This part is covered with glandular cells.
- EXOCERVIX or ECTOCERVIX: The part next to the vagina is the exocervix and is covered with squamous cells.
These two cell types joints and make the transformation zone. These transformation zones exact location changes with the age of women or when they birth the baby.
Cervical cancer occurs around these two parts of the cervix or in the transformation zone.
How Do Women Get Cervical Cancer?
Cervical Cancer Causes
All cervical cancers are caused by one of the human papillomaviruses (HPVs), due to a longstanding infection.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is very common, but not so dangerous because most people with HPV infection do not develop cancer.
There are over 100 types of HPVs, out of them only 15 types have to lead to cancers. Other HPV types cause congenial growth on the skin or genitals.
These ‘high risk’ HPVs causes cancers of the cervix as well as cancers of the penis in men. Human papillomaviruses can also cause cancers of the mouth, anus, and throat in people of both genders.
Is Cervical Cancer Contagious?
HPV infection is contagious and spread through sexual contact or skin-to-skin contact. Many studies have shown that HPV infection is common and that many people get infected with HPV at some point in life.
The infection typically resolves on its own. In some women, the precancerous changes in the cells of the cervix can be detected by Pap testing, a regular cervical cancer screening.
With Pap testing, a superficial sample of cells is collected from the cervix. During a routine pelvic examination, this sample is taken with a swab or a brush and sent to a laboratory for further analysis.
Signs And Symptoms Of Cervical Cancer
There is no significant sign and symptoms of Cervical cancer. In early stages of cervical cancers or in precancerous stages, typically no sign and symptoms are produced.
Symptoms may develop when the cervical infection start to invade surrounding tissues. Hence prevention is the only cure for HPV, and thus Cervical Vaccine is highly recommended.
Symptoms and signs of cervical cancer include:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
- Vaginal bleeding after menopause
- Vaginal bleeding after sex
- Bleeding or spotting between periods
- Longer or heavier menstrual periods than usual
- Other abnormal vaginal discharge
- Pain during sexual intercourse
These are not the specific symptoms of cervical cancer. Many factors along with these conditions can cause cervical cancer.
Besides this, certain other risk factors that increase a woman’s risk of developing cervical cancer are:
- Tobacco smoking
- Immune system suppression
- HIV infection
- Past or current Chlamydia infection
- Long-term use of oral contraceptives
- Having a first full-term pregnancy before age 17
- The family history of cervical cancer
- Having three or more full-term pregnancies
Cervical Cancer Screening Guidelines
The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that all women between the ages of 21 and 65 should go through cervical cancer screening every three years.
A Pap test should be obtained during a routine pelvic examination at regular interval.
Stages Of Cervical Cancer?
The stage of any cancer defines by the extent of cells grown to which it has spread in the body at the time of diagnosis.
Determining the Staging of cancers helps to opt the best treatment plan. Both the FIGO (International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics) and the AJCC (American Joint Committee on Cancer) have developed the systems to define cervical cancer stages.
Both systems are based on the extent of the tumor (cells growth), spread to any lymph nodes, and how much distance it proliferated. Cervical cancer is classified into stages from 0 to 4th, with many subcategories.
In general, the stages of cervical cancer are as follows:
- Stage 0: This stage is a safe stage and not a true invasive cancer. The abnormal cells are only on the surface of the cervix.
- Stage 1: At this stage, the tumor size is very small and has not spread to any lymph nodes or distant sites.
- Stage 2: At this stage, the abnormal cells have invaded beyond the cervix and uterus, but does not spread the lower part of the vagina, i.e. pelvic walls.
- Stage 3: the lower part of the vagina or the walls of the pelvis has affected by the abnormal growth of cells. The tumor may be blocking the ureters (tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder). There is no proliferation of other sites in the body.
- Stage 4: The most advanced stage of cancer, in which it has spread to the urinary bladder or rectum, or to sites in other areas of the body.
Prevention Of Cervical Cancer
High-Risk HPV Cancer Age
One of the reasons to increase the importance of Cervical Vaccine could be that not many women even know that cancer exists in their body.
Various studies have verified that women in the 55-65 age group are at the highest risk of cervical cancer. However, many women have been known to have the influence to it in their 30s and even in late 60s.
Cervical Vaccines In India:
Cervical cancer is one of the leading cancers in Indian women, mainly caused by Human Papillomavirus infection. Approximately per year, 67000 Indian women killed by HPV.
The two HPV vaccines currently available in India are-
- Bivalent (Cervarix, Rs 2405 per dose, protection against two types of HPV) and
- Quadrivalent (Gardasil, Rs 3259 per dose, protection against four types of HPV)
The Nona valent vaccine, which is considered to be the most effective (90% of carcinogenic HPV types as compared to 70% of above two vaccines), in the Western countries, is extremely expensive.
This is currently not available in India due to not approved by Drug Controller General of India (DCGI).
The High-Risk HPV Types
As stated above, Of more than 100 HPV types, about 15 HPV are found to be high risk. It’s type-16 and type-18 are responsible for almost 82% of cervical cancers in India. For more information about Gardasil vaccine go through with just 32 pages Kindle edition e_book at Just 73.0 rs.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
What Are The Doses Of Cervical Vaccines?
To avail the highest efficacy, The World Health Organization recommends the vaccine for all girls between 9 and 13 years of age, because the vaccine is highly immunogenic at this age.
Only two doses of the Cervical Vaccine administered at an interval of 6 to 12 months and that is enough to protect girls under 15 years of age.
Girls/women aged 15 years and older, as well as those who are immuno-compromised, e.g. affected with some disease like HIV, require 3 doses.
At What Age Till A Women Can Take The Vaccine?
Several studies show that Women up to the age of 26 can take the vaccine because over this age the immune reaction of women to the vaccine may not be strong, the immune reaction is strong till this age only.
Is Vaccine Work If A Women Already Exposed To HPV?
However, if you are a sexually active woman, who has already been exposed to the streaks of virus that the vaccine targets, then it won’t help you even if you are under 26 years of age.
As according to Suneeta Krishnan, Director (RTIGI), “Even though Cervical Vaccine is licensed to be given till 45 years of age, It shouldn’t be recommended to older women as they might have been already exposed to the virus”.
What Is The Treatment For Cervical Cancer?
The treatment for cervical cancer depends on many factors, including the stages of cancer when it is diagnosed. Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy are common methods of treatment for cervical cancer.