Genital human papillomavirus (abbreviation: HPV)is the most common sexually transmitted infection causing cervical cancer, genital warts and some less common cancers. More than 130 known types of HPV exist. The vaccination against HPV gives protection against the most dangerous ones.
HPV is a virus well spread; at least 80% of women living an active sexual life get infected at least once in their life according to some estimations. 75% of new infections occur among women between the ages of 15-24, therefore prevention is of great importance. Therefore, the most secure is to make the necessary precautions before starting the active sexual life by getting vaccinated against HPV.
The vaccination against HPV gives 100% protection between the ages of 16-26. The effectiveness of the immunization in case of women above the age of 26 is being studied at present; therefore in this case the vaccination can only be given at own risk after signing a statement.
Cervical cancer screening has to be carried out before receiving the vaccination against HPV. It can be done in the Center of Immunization, but we also accept screening results carried out elsewhere. On Saturdays cervical cancer screening is possible without vaccination in the Center of Immunization at consultation appointment set in advance.
Further information and application for cervical cancer screening or vaccination against HPV: +36-1-78-78-770, +36-20-20-87-878
What is HPV?
Cervical cancer is the second most frequent type of cancer among women under the age of 45. More than 99% of cervical cancer cases are caused by HPV.
Due to the virus the cells building the cervix start growing abnormally.
More than 100 types of the virus exist. Most of them represent lower risk and do not cause cervical cancer. In case of the types with high risk of cervical cancer (without appropriate treatment), the cells working abnormally cause the disease. Although those of high risk can also disappear by themselves, in some cases they remain in the cells and cause cancer generally after 10-20 years. In some cases the process can be much shorter, although the disease is basically known as indolent.
The symptoms of cervical cancer
Most of the times, no symptoms can be observed in the early stage of cervical cancer.Therefore, it is very important to take part in cervix screenings and smear tests frequently. At the moment this is the only way of discovering the abnormal cellular deformities, which are the symptoms of early stage cervical cancer.
If cervical cancer causes symptoms, mostly abnormal vaginal bleeding can be experienced between menstruations and after making love. Recurring menstruation can appear among women after menopause. Other symptom can be bleeding of unpleasant odour and pain during sex. Having experienced any of these symptoms, it is important to consult a doctor, even if in most cases these symptoms are not caused by cervical cancer. Several more common problems can cause similar symptoms.
Who is endangered?
It is worth remembering, that any woman who had sexual contact even for only one occasion, is exposed to HPV infection which is 99% responsible for the development of HPV disease.
The combination of regular screening and vaccination gives effective protection in the prevention of cervical cancer.
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How does the virus spread?
The virus spreads person to person through sexual contact either during sex or occasionally through the contact of the intimate parts of the body close to the copulatory organs. Due to its easy spreading, all sexually active women are threatened by the danger of infection. What’s more, at least 80% of women with an active sexual life get infected by one type of HPV in life.
Although the usage of condoms decreases the risk of infection, it does not give thorough protection. It happens because the skin directly around the sex organs can be a virus carrier too.
In case of having been infected by the type of HPV that causes cervical cancer, in the early stage of the disease, the symptoms are often not always visible. However, screening shows the deformity of the cells very soon. Therefore, annual control is very important.
How can I be protected against cervical cancer?
The lives of lots of women have been saved because their disease was diagnosed by cervical smear tests in an early stage.
Nowadays, besides regular screenings the vaccination further decreases the risk of the disease of cervical cancer.
Is your sexual life safe?
Using condoms is a smart way of protection which lowers the risk of the infection of HPV. However, it does not mean total protection because the skin around the copulatory organs can be a virus carrier as well.
As opposed to this condoms represent a suitable way of protection, since it protects against several infections that spread sexually.
The importance of regular screenings
Screenings were used effectively in the prevention of HPV in several countries around the world. Although the screening itself does not give protection, it does play a significant role in finding the abnormal cells on the cervix. This way treatments can begin before the development of cancer cells.
That is why it is very important to take part in screenings regularly.
It is normal that you are worried in case the result of the screening happens to be positive. However, it has to be remembered that the screening is not a test of cancer and there can be several other reasons of the result, e.g.: inflammation or other infection. Screenings enable doctors to identify - and treat if necessary – certain deformities of the cells of the cervix, which would have become sick of cancer after a while.
That’s why it is so important to attend the consultations suggested by the doctor. In case you would worry about the result of the screenings, bear in mind that in one out of 10 cases a rescreening is necessary according to the results. Moreover, positive results happen more frequently than you would think.
How often should the doctor be attended for screening?
In Hungary annual screening is recommended. Contact your gynaecologist and agree on a date for screening!
Ask yourself: When was the last time I had cervical screening, and when is the next one due?
What is the vaccination against HPV?
The vaccination against cervical cancer means further protection for you besides regular screenings. Your doctor will inform you in case the vaccination is contraindicated for you.
Nevertheless, it’s important to mention that although the vaccination gives effective protection against the development of cervical cancer, does not protect against all types of HPV viruses causing cancer. Occasionally, it happens that girls and women get infected by a not that common type of virus causing cancer. Therefore, screenings are necessary also in case of having received the immunization.
For whom should it be considered?
Cervical cancer endangers all sexually active women, but everybody can take measures to decrease the risk. The combined application of vaccination and regular screenings means optimal protection. Always consult your doctor to decide whether the vaccination is recommended to you or not.
Women with an active sexual life
The virus of HPV, that causes more than 99% of the infection of cervical cancer, is very common and can be spread easily. At least 80% of women with an active sexual life (should it be only once in life) may get infected by HPV. Although, most virus types represent low risk and do not cause the disease of cancer,yet several high-risk types of itcause cervical cancer.
The virus is spread sexually, but women can get infected not only by coition. The virus can also be spread through the contact of the skins around the sex organs.
The vaccination combined with cervical screenings gives protection against the infections caused by the most frequent types of HPV that cause cancer.
Mothers of teenage girls
It’s important to remember, that as soon as a teenage girl starts living an active sexual life, she is also exposed to the infection of HPV that cause cancer.
If you are a teenage girl’s mother, it’s evident that you would like to do everything for her when she becomes a woman. Consult your paediatrician to find her the most suitable protection.
How does the vaccination against cervical cancer protect?
Your immune system is the natural system of the human body that fights against diseases. It is to protect you from infections. Although in some cases, such as HPV infection, our immunity is not strong enough to protect us.
The vaccine against cervical cancer stimulates the patient’s immune system, this way securing the protection against HPV infection. As most immunizations, this also tries to give protection against the infection, without suffering from the disease or its’ symptoms.
Once having received the immunization your immune system recognizes the viruses attacking, and produces antibodies that try to destroy or deactivate the viruses. This way your immune system can protect you against cervical cancer more effectively.
Since the vaccination does not contain all types of HPV that cause cancer, it does not give protection against all dangerous types, only against those that result in cancer the most frequently.
How effective is the immunization?
The vaccination gives protection against some high-risk types of HPV infection, which are the pathogens cervical cancer. Actually, the vaccination helps to decrease the risk of the most common HPV viruses causing cancer, which are responsible for 70% of the disease of cervical cancer.
The immunization can be effective even if the patient has already been infected by HPV. Although HPV is common among women with an active sexual life, most of them have not been infected by all the types, against which the vaccination gives protection. Therefore, without immunization they can get infected also by the type of HPV that causes cancer.
It means that in most cases it is still not too late to enjoy the peace given by an extra precaution against cervical cancer.
At the moment, based on a 5-year old experience the vaccination is proven to be safe, gives effective and continuous protection.
Do I need screening after the vaccination too?
The answer is undoubtedly: yes
Although the immunization gives protection against the most frequently occurring HPV viruses that cause cancer, there are some not too common types, which can also be the pathogen of the disease, against which the vaccine does not give protection. Therefore, regular screening is necessary to be able to notice the possible symptoms of cancer on the cervix at an early stage, and to treat it before it would get worse.
How safe is the vaccination?
Like any other vaccinations, the vaccine against cervical cancer has also been tested by clinical examinations with the help of thousands of woman of different ages before launching.
The results have been examined continuously during years in terms of the side effects as well. The vaccination against cervical cancer generally has only few side effects. Like in case of any other vaccinations, local symptoms such as local redness, swelling and slight pain at the place of the injection may occur in this case too, but they go away quickly by themselves.
How can I receive the vaccination?
Your doctor will inform you whether you can receive the vaccination against HPV or not. The vaccination series is very easy, 3 injections into the upper arm within 6 months.