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Cancer Prevention Vaccines
Two approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are those for hepatitis b virus (HBV), the virus primarily responsible for liver cancer, and for some types of human papillomavirus (hpv), the virus primarily responsible for cervical cancer.
Preventing the viral infection nearly eliminates the risk for developing the cancer.
The HBV vaccine is among the recommended childhood vaccines in the United States, given as a series of three shots in infancy. Adults may also receive the HBV vaccine. Health experts recommend routine HPV vaccination for girls between ages 11 and 12, and for all young women to age 26. The HPV vaccine is a series of three injections given over 6 months.
The vaccine protects against infection with HPV types 6 and 11, which cause genital warts, and types 16 and 18, which can cause cervical cancer. Both vaccines are effective indefinitely. However, the HPV vaccine is not effective in women who already have HPV infection.
Therapeutic cancer vaccines target an individual’s cancer specifically, using antigens from the cancer cells to stimulate an immune response against those cells. The laboratory makes a vaccine using cancer cells from the person. These cells contain the antigens for which the vaccine will stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies.