In a study of more than 9,600 adolescent and young adult women in the Baltimore area, researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine have found that fewer than 30 percent of those eligible to receive the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to prevent cervical cancer actually chose to get it. And only about a third of those who began receiving the vaccine completed the three doses recommended for maximum protection.
The research, which was led by J. Kathleen Tracy, Ph.D., an assistant professor of epidemiology, will be presented on Nov. 9, 2010, at a cancer prevention research conference in Philadelphia sponsored by the American Association for Cancer Research.
"Despite strong evidence that the HPV vaccine is highly effective, our study showed that relatively few women choose to take it, and the majority of them don't complete the recommended series of doses," Dr. Tracy says. "This means that large numbers of these young women are unprotected or under-protected from strains of HPV that lead to cervical cancer."
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease among adolescent girls in the United States, with 29.5 percent of sexually active 14- to 19-year-olds infected at any given time. Persistent infection with certain strains of HPV has been shown to cause cervical cancer. Vaccines that target the most common strains of HPV have been licensed in the United States since 2006. Doctors recommend the vaccine for girls and young women from ages 12 to 26 years old, although girls as young as 9 years old can take it.
E. Albert Reece, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., vice president of medical affairs at the University of Maryland and dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, says, "HPV vaccines have the potential to greatly reduce and possibly even eliminate cervical cancer in those most at risk of developing it. However, these vaccines are only effective if young women choose to be vaccinated and receive the reco
|Contact: Karen E. Warmkessel|
University of Maryland Medical Center