October 2, 2014
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HPV

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An expert answers HPV questions

Dr. Vivien Brown is a Toronto-based family physician and is certified by the North American Menopause Society as an expert in women’s health and menopause. We asked her to answer some questions our readers have asked about HPV.

Question

Can HPV vaccination reverse the effects of HPV for someone who has already been diagnosed with cervical cancer?

Dr. Vivien Brown's Response

No, the vaccine is not therapeutic but prophylactic, meaning it works to prevent people from acquiring the specific HPV subtypes in the vaccine (there are 2 vaccines available; one covers 4 subtypes and one covers 2 subtypes). In other words, the vaccine will not alter the course for patients with the subtypes they have already acquired. But given their susceptibility, it makes good sense to protect these women from the other subtypes that are in the vaccine and even from related subtypes that her immune system may respond to. I would suggest that someone in this situation be vaccinated, which will help prevent future episodes of infection with other subtypes. Finally, we know that cervical cancer treatment may challenge a person's immune system, so this is a good opportunity to increase their level of protection.

HPV Questions

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