Protection against cervical cancer: Minister of Health campaigns for HPV vaccination
Scientists from the United States reported a study last year that showed that the risk of dying from cervical cancer is much higher than previously thought. However, the risk of developing this type of cancer can be significantly reduced: with HPV vaccination. Bavaria's Minister of Health is now campaigning for this protective measure.
Every year, 4,000 women develop cervical cancer
Cervical cancer is the third most common malignant genital tumor in women. Experts estimate that in Germany more than 4,000 women develop this cancer each year - around 1,500 die from it. Human papilloma viruses (HPV) are the main cause. These viruses are most commonly transmitted through sexual contact. Vaccination can provide protection.
Viruses can cause cancer
Human papilloma viruses (HPV) are pathogens that can cause inflammation and skin changes, but in the worst case can also cause cancer.
The Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO) has been recommending HPV vaccination for girls from 9 years of age for years. This is said to significantly reduce the number of cervical cancer cases.
Some experts believe that HPV vaccination can also be recommended for boys, as it can protect against genital warts and precursors to penile and anal cancer, among other things.
However, the cost of this vaccination for boys is currently not usually covered by health insurance.
HPV vaccination for girls
In the case of girls, the costs of the complete vaccination are borne by the health insurance companies if they are still under 18. Unfortunately, only every second girl is vaccinated in some regions.
In Bavaria there are even fewer: According to data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), just under a quarter of 15-year-olds were vaccinated in the Free State in 2015, compared to a third of 17-year-olds.
Experts like Bavaria's Minister of Health Melanie Huml therefore repeatedly advertise HPV vaccination to protect against life-threatening cervical cancer.
Vaccination before the "first time"
“The HPV vaccination is recommended to girls aged 9 to 14 and is well tolerated. Various vaccines are currently available in Germany that protect against infection with the most common carcinogenic HPV types, ”said Huml in a message.
“My goal is that more girls than ever choose to be vaccinated - preferably before the first big love. Because girls can become infected with HPV the "first time", "explained the Minister.
However, gynecologists still recommend HPV vaccination even after the first sex. Even if you have already had an infection with HPV.
According to the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), the vaccines currently used are considered safe and well tolerated.
The most common side effects observed - similar to other vaccinations - are skin reactions at the injection site such as redness, itching, mild pain and swelling.
For example, headaches, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, or hypersensitivity reactions such as breathing difficulties may occur less frequently.
No complete protection
Girls between nine and 14 years of age receive two vaccinations at intervals of five to 13 months for complete vaccination protection; three vaccinations are required for catch-up vaccination - from 15 years of age.
The HPV vaccination can also be rescheduled at a later age, whereby the statutory health insurance companies usually only cover the costs up to the age of 17.
"The vaccination, however, does not offer complete protection against all cancer-causing papillomaviruses," explained Huml.
"Therefore, cancer prevention at the gynecologist is still necessary, especially since other serious diseases of the uterus, ovaries or breast can be identified and treated as quickly as possible," said the politician, who is a doctor herself.
"The earlier a cancer is diagnosed and treated, the higher the chances of recovery." (Ad)