December 7, 2010
by Michelle Andrews
The vaccine that prevents 70 percent of cervical cancers got the thumbs up under the health overhaul law as one of the preventive benefits that must be provided free to girls and young women between the ages 9 and 26.
Why the difference? “Genital warts aren’t life threatening,” says Debbie Saslow, director of breast and gynecologic cancer for the American Cancer Society.
Merck, which manufactures one of the two FDA-approved HPV vaccines, is conducting research to see if the vaccine prevents genital cancers in men, says Saslow. In the meantime, though, the vaccine has already been shown to prevent cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancers in women. “It’s a matter of cost-effectiveness,” says Saslow.