The HPV vaccine, Gardasil (Merck), has been in the news since it came on the market but it’s geared towards young women. Since it has become available, many people have asked why Gardasil is for women only and not men. GlaxoSmithKline’s Cervarix is also now available.
HPV, human pappillomavirus, is the virus responsible for many types of genital warts and for some types of cervical cancer. Gardasil is a vaccine that helps to reduce the risk of contracting 4 types HPV. Two of which cause 70% of cervical cancer cases, and 2 more types that cause 90% of genital warts cases. HPV is spread through sexual contact and is very common.
Although penile cancer is relatively rare in the Western world (less than 1% of adult male cancers), it can be as high as 10% in developing countries, resulting in estimates of over 26,000 new cases of penile cancer diagnosed every year worldwide.
Spanish researchers have now found that the two types of HPV targeted by the vaccine not only play a role in some cervical cancers, but in penile cancer as well. The results of the study were published in the most recent issue of Journal of Clinical Pathology.
There are five stages of penile cancer. The early stages, 0, I and II are very curable. Once it gets to the later stages of III and IV though, it becomes more more difficult to treat. The National Cancer Institute estimates that in 2009, there will be 1290 new cases of penile cancer diagnosed in the U.S. and 300 deaths from it.