Analysis by Benjamin Radford
Tue Dec 28, 2010 03:12 PM ET
The Food and Drug Administration has just approved a vaccine that helps protect against anal cancer in men and women by targeting the human papillomavirus (HPV). About 90 percent of anal cancers are believed to be caused by HPV, and the vaccination also helps prevent cancer of the cervix, vagina, vulva, penis, and throat, as well as the development of genital warts.
This cancer vaccine is a genuine medical breakthrough — yet few people have received the HPV vaccine. Despite strong recommendations by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only about one in 10 young adult American women have been vaccinated against HPV.
According to a study published in the journal BMC Women’s Health, fewer than one-third of women between 19 and 26 who had not gotten the vaccine thought it was important, and about as many had discussed it with their doctor. Almost half were ambivalent about getting the HPV vaccine.