“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Cervical cancer is responsible for 6 to 29% of all cancers happening in women. And it is one of the few cancers with the potential for complete elimination through vaccination.

Most cervical cancers are caused by HPV which is a sexually transmitted virus.


All women from ages 9 to 26 can get the HPV vaccine or cervical cancer vaccine to protect against different types of HPV that can cause cancer.

It’s recommended that the girls get the vaccine at age 11 or 12, so they’re fully protected years before they become sexually active.

WHO also recommends starting HPV vaccination as early as 9 years.

From years 27 through 45; the HPV vaccine is not as effective as when it is started early; as many of you will already be exposed to some variety of  HPV, but still it is protective against other varieties. Your gynecologist will guide you further about this.

Dr. Dimple Doshi at Vardaan Hospital; believes prevention is better than cure, and thus apart from the precise treatment guidelines; preventive measures are an essential part of our consultations with the patients who have either had it or want to know more about it.

  1. Bivalent; protects against HPV types 16 and 18; commonest for the development of cervical cancer.
  2. Quadrivalent; protects against HPV types 6,11,16,18; apart from cervical cancer, it is also effective against anogenital warts.
  3. Nonavalent; protects against HPV types. 16,18,6,11,31,33,45,52 and 58. Apart from the above two types; it is also effective against vulvar; vaginal; anal; oropharyngeal and other head and neck cancers caused by HPV.
  1. Girls less than 15 years
  2. doses: 0, 6 months
  3. Girls more than 15 years
  4. doses: 0, 2, 6 months.

Like any other medicine; vaccines can have side effects. The common side effects are mild and get better in a day or two.  These include:

  1. Pain, redness, or swelling at a site where the shot was given.
  2. Fever
  3. Dizziness or fainting which is more common in adolescents than others/
  4. Nausea
  5. Headache or feeling tired
  6. Muscle or joint pain

To prevent fainting; your doctor will ask you to be seated or lying down during vaccination and 15 minutes after taking the shot.

  1. Who should not get the HPV vaccine?
Pregnant women; those who are ill or those who have any severe allergies including allergy to the first dose of HPV vaccine; latex or yeast should not get the HPV vaccine.
  1. Does the HPV vaccine benefit if you are already sexually active?
Yes. Even if you have one type of HPV; you can still benefit from other strains as the vaccine protects you from the strains you are not exposed to.
  1. Do I still need to go for regular PAP smear testing even if I have received full HPV vaccination?
Yes, you have to do regular PAP testing. HPV vaccine does not intend to replace the PAP testing.
  1. I am 30 years old. Can I still take the vaccine?
HPV vaccination is not recommended for women above 26 years because the women in this age range will not get the desired benefit as they have already been exposed to the HPV virus. But still, if they consider taking it; they can after consulting their gynecologist.
  1. How does HPV infection spread?
HPV infection spreads through sexual contact; oral; vaginal or anal. So using condoms may protect you against developing HPV.
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