Late last year, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine, which protects against several strains of HPV that have been linked to cervical cancer. Soon after, the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a recommendation that young women ages 9 to 26 get the vaccine.
The HPV vaccine has changed the way we think about cancer forever. The fact that a virus could lead to cancer was a revolutionary discovery, opening up a vast new field of scientific exploration and providing hope that we were one step closer to understanding the mysteries of cancer.
If cervical cancer can be linked to an infection, perhaps other cancers can as well. If we can identify the biological pathogen, then perhaps we can develop vaccines or specific treatments that will prevent the cancer from developing. For more information about cervical cancer and the vaccine, go to cdc.gov.