India’s 1st Cervical cancer vaccine – What causes it, who can take vaccine?

Cervical cancer: With India coming up with its own indigenously produced vaccine for cervical cancer, it’s a big breakthrough in India’s medical field. According to a report in PTI, Cervical cancer in India ranks as the second most frequent cancer among women between 15 and 44 years of age. India’s first indigenously developed quadrivalent Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine for the prevention of cervical cancer. Dr Pramod Kumar Julka, Senior Director, Medical Oncology, Max Institute of Cancer Care, Lajpat Nagar, spoke to us about Cervical cancer, who should take the vaccine and vaccine efficacy.

What causes cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer is caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Dr PK Julka says, “This HPV virus often afflicts young patients who indulge in malpractices when it comes to sexual activities. Then people who have multiple sexual partners and who don’t take care of proper hygiene are more prone to it.”

Who are at maximum risk of cervical cancer?

“Those who have multiple sexual partners, don’t ensure genital hygiene and those who haven’t taken the vaccine are at maximum risk,” says Dr PK Julka.

Cervical cancer vaccine: What’s the ideal age?

Preferably between the ages of 9 and 12, before the first sexual encounter, says Dr Julka. “Earlier, we used to say the vaccine should be taken before marriage. But changing times and social practices means it’s best to take the vaccine prior to the first sexual encounter.”

Cervical cancer vaccine: Is this only for women? What about men?

As experts point out, no one should skip the HPV vaccine, even men. According to WebMD, “Men cannot develop cervical cancer, but the HPV vaccine may prevent genital warts, penile cancer, anal cancer, and the spread of HPV to sexual partners.”  Dr PK Julka adds that it’s also effective in preventing head and neck cancers and hence, should be taken by males too.

Cervical cancer vaccine efficacy

It gives 70-80% protection roughly and that’s a very good number, says Dr Julka.

India’s own cervical cancer vaccine

India’s first indigenously developed quadrivalent HPV vaccine for the prevention of cervical cancer is all set to be launched in a few months and will be made available to people at an affordable price range of Rs 200-400.  At an event in New Delhi, Jitendra Singh, Union Minister of Science and Technology, on September 1 announced the scientific completion of the Indian vaccine. Scientific completion means that R&D activities pertaining to the vaccine are complete and now the next step of making them available to the public would take place.

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