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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update

GLOBAL: HPV Vaccine Can Prevent Most Anal Cancers: Study


Agence France Presse (10.26.11) - Tuesday, November 01, 2011

In a new study, young men who have sex with men given Merck's human papillomavirus vaccine Gardasil developed 75 percent fewer anal lesions that can lead to cancer than MSM who received a placebo.

If detected early, the lesions caused by vaccine-targeted HPV types 6, 11, 16 or 18 often can be removed, preventing cancer from developing. Vaccination before sexual debut can help prevent HPV in the first place, experts say.

Nearly 6,000 anal cancer diagnoses are made in the United States each year, and close to 800 deaths are associated with it annually. There are about nine new cervical cancer cases per 100,000 women each year in the United States, compared with about 100 new cases of anal cancer per 100,000 HIV- positive men.

The international trial involved 602 healthy MSM ages 16-26 randomly assigned to receive either placebo or the three-shot Gardasil series. All MSM had had at least one but no more than five sexual encounters. The trial ran from 2006 to 2008 and included three years of follow-up.

Vaccinated participants who had never been exposed to HPV had a 75 percent lower rate of anal HPV infections and precancerous anal lesions. Those exposed to one or more targeted HPV types saw 54 percent fewer lesions than those not vaccinated.

"What this trial showed is that those cancers and deaths could be prevented," said lead author Joel Palefsky, a University of California-San Francisco professor and director of UCSF's Anal Neoplasia Clinic. "Based on these data, the vaccine works well to prevent HPV infection and precancerous anal disease, and will likely prevent anal cancer in men. The ideal time to begin vaccination would be before initiation of sexual activity, but vaccination may also be useful after initiation of sexual activity." The Merck-funded study, "HPV Vaccine Against Anal HPV Infection and Anal Intraepithelial Neoplasia," was published in the New England Journal of Medicine (2011;365(17):1576- 1585).


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Information in this article was accurate in November 1, 2011. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.