Tuesday I went for that fun yearly visit at the doctor today I got a call from the doctor's office asking me if I was intrested in the Cervical Cancer Vaccine so of course I said SURE! They asked me to come in on Thursday to talk with the doctor about it, I didn't think any of it so I said okay.
BUT NOW IM SCARED!
I mean of course I dont have it, cuz it would be too late for a vaccine, but did they maybe see something that suggests I am at risk for cancer in the future? Why didn't he tell me about it when I was there? I know only my doctor can REALLY answer these but I am a bit scared and just wanted to know if any of you have any ideas why he would wait till AFTER they did the tests. Like I was there, talk to me about it then? Unless he forgot....
03-30-2007, 09:37 PM
First, relax and don't be scared. I'm sure you are just fine and your doctor is just being proactive about your health. Unless you have abnormal pap smears, there's nothing to worry about. And even if you do have abnormal pap smears, it is absolutely treatable. That's why women get pap smears - to find abnormal cells and zap 'em before they can cause any trouble.
I'm not a doctor, but what I can tell you is that the label 'cervical cancer vaccine' is a bit of a misnomer. The vaccine prevents infection from certain strains of HPV, the human papilloma virus. HPV is what causes cervical cancer. You must get the vaccine BEFORE you are exposed to HPV for it to be effective. Here’s some more info taken directly from Oprah.com. She had a doctor on her show just yesterday talking about the vaccine.
“Eighty percent of women will contract the human papillomavirus—more commonly known as HPV—in their lifetime. This sexually transmitted virus can lead to cervical cancer. Doctors say a new vaccine that's on the market can prevent HPV, but the sooner you get the treatment, the better. In fact, many recommend that girls as young as 9 years old should be vaccinated.
The virus, which spreads through skin-to-skin sexual contact, can cause genital warts; but oftentimes, symptoms take weeks, months or even years to appear. In some cases, someone with HPV may never exhibit symptoms—until cancer cells form. A simple medical test can determine whether you're currently living with this common virus.
Most immune systems can fight off the dangerous strains of this virus on their own, but some people's bodies are unable to prevent it from causing major medical issues, including cancer. Dr. Savard says if every woman has three doses of the vaccine before they've been exposed to the virus, no woman will ever die from cervical cancer again.” ~ Oprah.com
You can ask your doctor for an HPV test if you're really worried. But if your doc is recommending the vaccine, I would think that you're HPV negative.
I hope this helps.
03-30-2007, 09:47 PM
The vaccine prevents infection from certain strains of HPV, the human papilloma virus. HPV is what causes cervical cancer.
Dr. Savard says if every woman has three doses of the vaccine before they've been exposed to the virus, no woman will ever die from cervical cancer again.” ~ Oprah.com
That isn't entirely correct as the vaccine doesn't proctect you from ALL strains of HPV.
This excerpt is from the American Cancer Society:
"Do We Know What Causes Cervical Cancer?
In recent years, scientists have made much progress toward understanding the steps that take place in cells of the cervix when cancer develops. In addition, they have identified several risk factors that increase the odds that a woman might develop cervical cancer.
The development of normal human cells mostly depends on the information contained in the cells’ chromosomes. Chromosomes are large molecules of DNA. DNA is the chemical that carries the instructions for nearly everything our cells do. We usually resemble our parents because they are the source of our DNA. However, DNA affects more than our outward appearance.
During the past few years, scientists have made great progress in understanding how certain changes in DNA can cause normal cells to become cancerous.
Some genes (packets of our DNA) contain instructions for controlling when our cells grow and divide. Certain genes that promote cell division are called oncogenes. Others that slow down cell division or cause cells to die at the right time are called tumor suppressor genes. Cancers can be caused by DNA mutations (gene defects) that turn on oncogenes or turn off tumor suppressor genes. Scientists now think that HPV causes the production of 2 proteins known as E6 and E7. When these are produced, they turn off some tumor suppressor genes. This may allow uncontrolled growth of the cervical lining cells, which in some cases will lead to cancer.
But HPV does not completely explain what causes cervical cancer. Most women with HPV don’t get cervical cancer, and certain other risk factors influence which women exposed to HPV are more likely to develop cervical cancer.
Smoking: Smoking produces cancer-causing chemicals that damage the DNA of cervical cells and contribute to the development of cancer.
Immune system deficiency: Another possible cause is immune system deficiency. Our immune system helps keep us free of cancer. HIV (the AIDS virus) infection makes a woman's immune system less able to fight HPV and early cervical cancers."
03-30-2007, 10:05 PM
This is not to scare, only to inform. i got this straight from the Merk website. There are over 100 strands of HPV, the vaccine only "protects" you from 4 out of 100. and even those 4 that they are supposed to protect you from, its not 100 %, so you still have a chance of getting those 4 strains, even with taking the vaccine. There are side effects too, young girls have been passing out, vomitting, and even having seizures from this vaccine, its new and you have every right to be cautious. also if youve had sex before with more than one partner you may have already been exposed, make sure you are tested to find out if you have it first or not because it would be pointless to take unless you are HPV free. personally i dont agree with the vaccine because its not that effective and it doesnt protect you from the other 94 strands. But thats JMO. do some research before you get it just to make sure you are 100%. Like i said, its new and hasnt been out long enough to really see if it works or not.
03-30-2007, 10:15 PM
True, its not effective against all strains of HPV - but it is effective against the strains that are shown to cause cervical cancer. Not all strands of HPV are known to cause cervical cancer, and the vaccine is effective against all of the major strands that cause the cancer. So while it won't make you immune to HPV as a whole, it WILL greatly reduce your chances of contracting a cancer-causing HPV strain
03-30-2007, 11:06 PM
The vaccine protects against the top 4 strains that have been proven to cause cervical cancer and is important to get innoculated even if you "have it" because it is likely if you "already have it" it would only be one of the strains, and you would be protected against the other three. Your doctor can do genetic testing if you are positive to identify which one you have.
It is very important for every woman eligible to be vaccinated, be vaccinated.
HPV has the potential to be a silent killer. Some strains cause warts, but some do not have any symptoms until they have caused damage to tissues that in turn cause symptoms.
I cannot stress yearly pap smears and physicals enough. I was diagnosed with both HPV and cervical cancer over a year ago at 24, found by a yearly pap. One year clear, the next stage four cell changes. It can happen that fast. If found early, they can do a relatively minor surgical procedure to remove damaged cells, but if undiagnosed, the cancer can spread and require major surgery and/or medicinal treatment as well.
Whether you decide to get the vaccine or not, I applaud you for CARING about your own health and trying to become educated about your body and health. Bravo.
03-31-2007, 08:58 AM
I thought that they only gave the shot if you did not have the strain. My thought was they ran the test for the strains, didnt find it, so they know you would benefit from the vaccination. My question about the vaccine is why is there an upper age limit? I've been tested, dont have the strains present, but am "to old" for the shot!?
03-31-2007, 09:52 AM
I've been tested, dont have the strains present, but am "to old" for the shot!?
In the United States (not sure about Canada since the original poster is in Canada), the vaccine is only considered safe for women up to age 26. I went and had my yearly exam earlier this month, and my doc brought it up, too, suggesting I get it. She told me if I were 27 or 35, we would not even have that conversation because they are only allowed to administer it up to age 26. She felt bad bringing it up because I had told her I had just become engaged, so of course I'm not being exposed to stuff since my fiance is the only guy I've ever had sex with, and we've been together (and only with each other) for over 3 years now. But she pointed out that you never know what might happen in the future. Jeff could (God forbid) get hit by a bus when we're 30, and I may find myself "on the market" again and by then too old to get the vaccine.
And katiematie, like others have already mentioned, no, the vaccine doesn't protect against ALL strains of HPV, but if you do a little research, you'll see that there are only a few strains of HPV that are linked to causing cervical cancer. Most strands are actually quite harmless.
I have a brochure for information, and I'll be making an appointment to get my vaccine soon [well, 3 appointments--it's a series of 3 shots. You go for the first one, then 2 months later, then again at 6 months (4 months after the second shot)].
03-31-2007, 03:13 PM
A younger woman's cervix is shaped and formed a little differently than those of us with older cervixes and is more vulnerable to cellular changes caused by HPV. There are 4 cancer causing strains. Testing for those strains is typically triggered by a slightly abnormal pap. If only normal cells are seen from a pap, then the testing won't be done. It is recommended that, even if a woman has tested positive for one strain, she get the vaccine to prevent infection with the other strains. If only all cancers could be prevented by a vaccine as well as cervical cancer!
Remember a pap is only as good as the cells obtained on that day and as read by the pathologist.
I do recommend this vaccine for my patients and my daughters will get it. Cervical cancer sucks, as do paps every 3-4 months, colposcopies, biopsies, etc.
I have patients who are rape victims and their only physical sequlae is HPV infection....thank God not pregnancy or HIV...but now they are high risk for cancer and have to deal with close follow up for years.
03-31-2007, 06:19 PM
i say get it...i have a friend who has HPV...and is worried about cervical cancer and has had occasional issues from it. She wishes the vaccine was out sooner. Get it now while you still can and especially if you are sexually active or plan to be. What most women don't know is guys can carry HPV but never show symptoms...and to make things better... condoms DONT protect you 100% from contraction of HPV. HPV can be contracted even if you use condoms (unlike most other STDs). So i say relax and not worry about being called about the vaccine. Your doc is doing what is in your best interest and i would HIGHLY recommend it. Definately and ounce of protection thing!
03-31-2007, 07:25 PM
Thank you for all the information. I will be getting it! I was worried cuz I couldnt understand why he didnt talk to me about it when I was there. But I am feeling much better now.
Thanks everyone :)
04-02-2007, 10:31 AM
I have actually been hearing about exceptions to the upper age limit.... apparently some doctors are giving the vaccine to older women, who are finding themselves "on the market" now after years of being married or with a single partner.
Its important to note that men are carriers and don't usually know that they have it. They are researching providing a vaccine for men to help prevent the spread.
I don't know if insurance covers this vaccine yet or not.... it is a series of 3 shots that runs $180 each in my area (at the County health department).
04-09-2007, 10:03 AM
My daughter is 12 and just got her third and final gardisil shot last week. She has not had any side effects or complaints about it, other than the fact that the needle hurts! Our insurance UHC covers it for us anyway!