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What Is the HPV Vaccine Used For?

The HPV Vaccine and Cancer

Gardasil is approved to prevent HPV-related cancers of the anus, vagina, vulva, and cervix, and Cervarix is approved to prevent HPV-related cancer of the cervix. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus that opens into the vagina. Cancer of the cervix is a serious disease that can be life-threatening if not caught early. This is why cervical cancer screening (such as a Pap test) is so important.
Symptoms of cervical cancer include unusual vaginal bleeding and vaginal bleeding after sexual intercourse. Often though, there are no early symptoms of cervical cancer. Cervical cancer treatment includes surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, depending on the stages of cervical cancer. Cervical cancer stages are a way of categorizing the severity of the cancer.
Both Cervarix and Gardasil protect against HPV types 16 and 18 (high-risk HPV types). At least 70 percent of cervical cancer is caused by these two types. The HPV vaccine can help prevent infection with HPV and can prevent HPV cervical cancer. However, the HPV vaccine will not prevent cervical cancer from other causes. It also will not treat cervical cancer or symptoms of HPV once they are present.

HPV Vaccine Use in Children

The HPV vaccine has been licensed for use in girls as young as nine years old (for Gardasil) or ten years old (for Cervarix). Giving the HPV vaccine to young girls will help make sure they are protected when they become sexually active.

Off-Label HPV Vaccine Uses

On occasion, your healthcare provider may recommend the HPV vaccine for something other than the condition(s) discussed above. This is called an "off-label" use. At this time, using the HPV vaccine outside the recommended age groups is a possible off-label use.
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