Gardasil 9 is a vaccine that helps protect against Human Papillomavirus (HPV).
So why is this vaccine important?
In Singapore, cervical cancer is the 3rd leading cause of cancer deaths in women age 15-44 years old.
Cervical Cancer risk is increased with :
- Multiple sexual partners
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) and can affect anyone who is sexually active, both men and women.
There are 2 types of HPV – the low risk and high-risk types.
- Low-risk HPV can cause genital warts in both female and males. These are flesh coloured growths on the genitals, and they are infectious.
- High-risk HPV can cause increase the risk of cancer, such as cancer of the cervix, vulva, and vagina in women as well as anal cancer in men.
Most people infected with HPV show no sign and symptoms, this means they can transmit the HPV virus to others without knowing it, in any kind of sexual activity or skin to skin contact. Learn more about HPV Vaccination
Cervical cancer can be prevented through vaccination.
Gardasil 9 provides protection against 9 major strains of HPV, which includes HPV types 6,1, which can cause up to 90% of genital warts and types16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58 which can cause up to 90% vulva, vaginal and cervical cancers.
The HPV vaccine, however, does not treat the infection.
It can be given to both females and males from the age of 9 to 26 years old, ideally before the person starts becoming sexually active.
From the age of 9 – 14 years, 2 doses 6 months apart is recommended while those age 15-26, 3 doses will be recommended according to the schedule of 0, 2 and 6 months.
After the completion of HPV vaccination, all females who are sexually active and above the age of 25 should still undergo routine cervical cancer screening via a pap smear test every 3 years.
What is Pap Smear?
Pap smear is a simple procedure (see: 8 Things You Need To Know About Pap Smear) that can be done in clinic to obtain some tissues from the neck of your womb, to look for early abnormal cell changes in the lining of the cervix before they become precancers or cancer.
Pap smear screening is very important as precancerous changes in the cervix typically show no symptoms.
So, remember cervical cancer is preventable.