Cervical cancer could soon become a thing of the past thanks to a groundbreaking new HPV vaccine. While the current vaccine, Gardasil, protects against two cancer-causing types of HPV, the new preventative, Gardasil 9, defends against nine HPV strains—seven of which are responsible for most cases of cervical cancer. (Doctors recommend the HPV shot as The No. 1 Vaccine You Have to Get for Sexual Health.)
Research published last year in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention confirmed that nine HPV strains responsible for 85 percent or more of precancerous lesions, and results from the nine-valent vaccine’s clinical trials have been extremely promising.
A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine reports Gardasil 9 is equally as effective as Gardasil in preventing disease from strains 6, 11, 16, and 18, and is 97 percent effective at preventing high-grade cervical, vulvar, and vaginal diseases caused by the additional strains 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58.
According to the study authors, Gardasil 9 could increase cervical protection from the current 70 percent to as much as 90 percent—virtually eliminating all of these cancers in vaccinated women. (By the way, 69 Percent of Us Probably Have HPV.)
The FDA approved the new vaccine in December and it should be available to the public this month. It’s recommended for girls aged 12-13—before they’ve been exposed to the virus—but, in some cases, may be appropriate for women 24-45. Talk to your doctor to find out if you’re a candidate (and, while you’re there, find out if you Should Trade Your Pap Smear for the HPV Test).