A data review of 3 clinical trialsshowed that the cervical cancer vaccine,Gardasil, also protects against vulvarand vaginal cancers. The vaccine,manufactured by Merck & Co, attacks 4strains of human papillomavirus (HPV):HPV 16 and 18, which are linked to cervicalcancer, and HPV 6 and 11, whichcause anogenital warts. Researchersevaluated Gardasil in 18,000 womenaround the world; none had beenexposed to HPV when the trial started.They were randomly assigned toreceive 1 to 3 doses of either the vaccineor a placebo over a 6-month period,after which they were followed for 2years. When the trial ended, 24 womenin the placebo group had developedhigh-grade precancerous HPV-type 16and 18 lesions, compared with none inthe vaccine group. Lesions caused byHPV types other than 16 and 18appeared in 27 patients in the placebogroup and 5 patients in the vaccinegroup—making the vaccine 81% effectiveagainst cancers associated with anyHPV type. This research was presentedat the American Society of ClinicalOncology annual meeting in Atlanta, Ga.
Ms. Farley is a freelance medicalwriter based in Wakefield, RI.