Vaccine Prevents Most Cervical Cancer – New York Times

This is a huge advancement for women’s health, and about time, too. Given that Viagra has been around for 10 years (and whose existence probably caused even more cases of HPV), it’s about time the drug companies started producing useful items like this:

An experimental vaccine has proved highly effective at preventing cervical cancer in a two-year study involving more than 12,000 women, researchers reported yesterday.

The vaccine works by making people immune to two types of a sexually transmitted virus that cause most cases of the disease. It is the first successful vaccine ever developed specifically to prevent cancer.

The vaccine, Gardasil, is made by Merck & Company, which plans to apply for approval to the Food and Drug Administration before the end of this year and, if the vaccine is approved, to market it in 2006.

If widely used, the vaccine could save many lives. Worldwide, there are about 500,000 new cases of cervical cancer a year, and 290,000 deaths. Most of the cases and most of the deaths occur in poorer countries where women do not have regular Pap tests, which can detect cancers or precancerous cells early enough for them to be cured. In the United States, where Pap tests are common, 10,400 new cases are expected in 2005, and 3,700 deaths.

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