The Food and Drug Administration has just approved a vaccine that helps protect against anal cancer in men and women by targeting the human papillomavirus (HPV). About 90 percent of anal cancers are believed to be caused by HPV, and the vaccination also helps prevent cancer of the cervix, vagina, vulva, penis, and throat, as well as the development of genital warts.

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This cancer vaccine is a genuine medical breakthrough


According to a study published in the journal BMC Women’s Health, fewer than one-third of women between 19 and 26 who had not gotten the vaccine thought it was important, and about as many had discussed it with their doctor. Almost half were ambivalent about getting the HPV vaccine.

The study found that women had various reasons for not getting the vaccine, including being in a monogamous relationship (55 percent); concern that the vaccine is unproven (35 percent), and concern over side effects (24 percent).

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Cost is also a significant impediment; the two vaccines, Gardasil and Cervarix, each cost about $120 per dose and require three doses. Health insurance companies may or may not cover the cost, but, doctors note, it’s a relatively small price to pay compared to getting cancer.