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Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center

UCSF Experts Cautious about Vaccine for Cervical Cancer Virus

By Kristen Bole, UCSF News Services | May 11, 2007

Unknowns about the effectiveness and safety of the new human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine demand thoughtful deliberation by clinicians on its role in cervical cancer prevention, according to two UCSF women's health specialists.

The lack of long-term follow-up to assess vaccine efficacy and safety, as well as the lack of testing in the age group targeted for the vaccine (11 to 12 year-old girls), are among the main reasons for such caution, they say.

Their analysis is reported in today's issue (May 10, 2007) of the "New England Journal of Medicine," which focuses on the new vaccine. The editorial and other NEJM articles are available online at

The vaccine, which has received international attention since its approval by the Food and Drug Administration last June, targets four HPV types, two of which can cause cervical cancer, according to George F. Sawaya, MD, and Karen Smith-McCune, MD, who are co-authors of the editorial and are associate professors in the UCSF Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Services.

Read more at Kristen Bole, UCSF News Services