Safeguarding daughters from cervical cancer
The American Cancer Society estimates that medical testing will discover about 11,150 cases of invasive cervical cancer in the United States this year. Some researchers estimate that non-invasive cervical cancer is about four times more common than invasive cervical cancer.
While the death rate from cervical cancer continues to drop because of early detection, vaccinations against the human papillomavirus, or HPV, that causes the cancer should be routine.
This year, about 3,670 U.S. women will die from cervical cancers. The vaccine would cut that number just as vaccinations against childhood diseases prevent them from occurring in children.
The vaccine, Gardasil, should be available locally in about two months. The Food and Drug Administration approved the vaccine for females ages 9-26.
HPV is generally transmitted through sexual intercourse so health officials recommend females receive the vaccine before they become sexually active. Some critics of the vaccinations, however, say giving young girls the shot will give tacit parental approval for the youngsters to become sexually active.
Parents who are worried that allowing their daughters to get the vaccination don't have to disclose the reason for the shot. Youngsters are accustomed to getting shots and most won't ask questions.
Ask your doctor or call your local health department about the vaccine. If the vaccine can protect against HPV, parents should carefully weigh the consequences of withholding the shot from their daughters.