December 11, 2007
New Vaccine for Cervical Cancer
Recently I have heard a great deal about a new vaccine for cervical cancer. Like many, I was shocked to hear that cervical cancer can be caused by a virus just like the common cold. I thought that like many other kinds of cancer, cervical cancer was most likely a result of some sort of genetic mutation. Apparently, this mutation is caused by a virus that is more easily spread than we would like to believe.
During my sophomore year in college, my roommate came to me with a health concern. She was experiencing something strange and was frightened by it. After listening to her describe her symptoms, it did not take long before I knew that whatever this was went far beyond a typical yeast infection or similar issue. I recommended that she see a doctor and when she did, she was told that she had contracted HPV.
Human Papilloma Virus was not something I had ever heard of. When I did some research on sexually transmitted diseases, I found mentions of HPV. These mentions generally came at the end of the lists, which to me implied that HPV was not nearly as serious as other sexually transmitted diseases that we all know of. This was six years ago.
Perhaps even six months ago most people who came across mentions of HPV in their research would have discounted the severity of the virus. They certainly did not associate this virus or any virus with something as serious as cervical cancer. Cervical cancer can go undetected without a gynecological exam and Pap test. It is recommended that all women undergo such an exam every year. With the media coverage we have been blessed to witness recently on the topic, women everywhere are more informed about sexual health.
My friend has since had to undergo gynecological exams twice a year to monitor the HPV situation. She was told early on that the virus could render her sterile if not kept in check. Now she is more concerned about the possibility of developing cervical cancer than anything else. If she does not live, her worries about possibly being unable to create and give life are meaningless.
Hopefully, more and more women in the future will be able to avoid such worries with the introduction of the HPV vaccine. Although cervical cancer was not a subject you heard about often, it has been covered a lot in the news recently and will hopefully lead to fewer cases as more education about cervical cancer and its causes becomes available.