Does Someone Vaccinated Against HPV Still Need to be Screened for Cervical Cancer?
The HPV vaccine is intended to prevent the most common types of human papillomavirus (HPV). These viruses are most known to cause cancers in the rectum, vulva, vagina, and oropharynx. A vaccine can also prevent many types of genital warts.
It is recommended that girls receive an HPV vaccine when they are between the ages of 11 and 12, but a person can get one when they are older. In any case, individuals often wonder if they still need to be screened for cervical cancer after receiving the vaccine. The answer is yes, they do.
Screening Prior to a Vaccine
Patients do not typically need to be screened for HPV or have a Pap test to determine if they can receive the vaccine. However, it is recommended that girls start receiving the vaccine before they become sexually active because HPV is a sexually transmitted disease. It is possible to receive the vaccine after a woman has become sexually active, but it may not be as effective, especially if she has already contracted a type of HPV.
Effectiveness of HPV Vaccines
HPV vaccines are given in two doses, and the second is administered approximately six months after the first. The vaccine only targets certain types of cervical cancers, but it is extremely effective in preventing HPV 16 and 18.
It is important for women to continue testing for cervical cancer because the HPV vaccine does not protect against all types. Additionally, if a woman receives the vaccine after she was already sexually active, it is especially important for her to continue screening for cervical cancer. The vaccine will not protect against existing infections or diseases associated with HPV.
It is also important that women who are sexually active continue to be screened for other sexually transmitted diseases. The HPV vaccine only protects against the human papillomavirus and will not prevent other sexually transmitted diseases.
Although the effects of HPV vaccines can last ten years, women should continue to get tested for cervical cancer. According to the CDC, most women in the United States diagnosed with cervical cancer never underwent screening for it or did not get tested in the last five years. Regular testing is crucial for women that have received the HPV vaccine, as well as for those that have not.
Ask Your Doctor about HPV Vaccines
If you have not received your HPV vaccine, you should do so right away. HPV typically does not show obvious symptoms, so people can become critically sick before they realize a simple vaccine could have helped. If you are still not vaccinated against HPV, contact your healthcare provider today.