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Cervical Cancer Vaccine Shows Promising Results


TV report transcript

New clinical studies indicate an experimental vaccine could protect women from cervical cancer.

Erika Klein volunteered to test the cervical cancer vaccine -- getting a total of three shots in six months.

ERIKA KLEIN

"They were very easy. I didn't experience any side effects."

Preliminary results from the clinical trials show the shots are effective. Four years ago, 1,100 women were given the vaccine or a placebo. Of those who got the actual vaccine and followed through the whole trial, none have any pre-cancerous growths today. Of those who received the placebo, at least 12 did develop lesions that can become cancerous.


Dr. Diane Harper of Dartmouth Medical School says more trials are needed to confirm the result, but this appears to be a major development in preventing cancer.

DR. DIANE HARPER

"This is incredibly exciting. There is no other gynecologic cancer or any cancer in the human body that can be completely prevented from a vaccine, in the way that cervical cancer can be."

Cervical cancer is caused by the most common sexually transmitted virus -- the Human Papilloma Virus, known as HPV. At some point in their lives, most women are infected with it. Normally their bodies can protect themselves. But sometimes the virus can rage out of control -- triggering cancer.

The new vaccine introduces the body to a harmless bit of the virus. That spurs the immune system to make antibodies against it. Once that happens, if the virus appears again, the body will fight it off. The U.S. government could approve the vaccine in the next two years. It would then be administered to girls between the ages of 10 and 12-years-old -- before they become sexually active and risk infection.

Many parents say they would want their daughters to be vaccinated.

WOMAN ON STREET #1:

"I would want her to have every opportunity to be protected."

WOMAN ON STREET #2:

"I would vaccinate against every kind of cancer if I could."

WOMAN ON STREET #3:

"If they have a vaccine that could save lives in the long run, I think it's something worth looking into. Definitely."

Doctors hope this vaccine -- the first ever to prevent a kind of cancer -- will become as widespread as standard childhood inoculations.

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