NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Could it be possible to virtually eliminate cervical cancer?
One country is on track to do just that and the Food and Drug Administration is expanding its approval of the key weapon in the battle, CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported Monday.
That would be a vaccine against human papilloma virus or HPV, the virus that causes cervical cancer.
The FDA has just expanded its approval of the Gardasil-9 vaccine to now include anyone from ages 9 to 45.
Australia’s HPV vaccine campaign is on track to make cervical cancer a thing of the past.
Lisa Lockland-Bell was diagnosed with cervical cancer 13 years ago. She was lucky to survive.
“I had to have a radical hysterectomy within five days of diagnosis, followed by six weeks of radiotherapy,” Lockland-Bell said.
The HPV vaccine might have prevented her cancer. It will likely keep her daughter from going through a similar ordeal.
“Of course, I’m really excited and having a 15-year-old daughter myself really makes it a bittersweet moment as well,” Lockland-Bell said.
HPV-related cancer expert Dr. Linus Chuang said the HPV vaccine is a major development.
“The vaccination is specific … and they are safe to be used and they can prevent a lot of diseases and deaths related to these infections,” Dr. Chuang said. ”
An aggressive vaccination program in Australia is well on its way to achieving Dr. Chuang’s prediction.
“Our research has shown that Australia is on track to become the first country in the world to eliminate cervical cancer as a public health problem,” Cancer Council Prof. Karen Canfell said.
The latest statistics show that cervical cancer rates in Australia will drop to less than 6 in every 100,000 people by 2022, officially classifying it rare. By 2035, it’ll be extremely rare, and by 2060 almost non existent.
That success is largely attributed to the fact that in Australia, Gardasil is given to both girls and boys in school, which should prevent most cervical and genital cancers as well as HPV-related oral and throat cancers in both males and females.
“New infections with the virus should pretty much have gone by now,” Prof. Ian Frazer said.
The reason that young children should get the vaccine is that it will then prevent most HPV infections before they become sexually active. The newest version of the vaccine, Gardasil-9, was approved four years ago and it protects against nine strains of HPV, which is nearly all of the cancer-causing strains of the virus.