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What Is a Cervical Cancer Jab?

A diagram of the female reproductive system, including the cervix.
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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 11 November 2014
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In some countries, needle vaccinations are referred to as "jabs." As such, a cervical cancer jab is a vaccine against this potentially deadly disease. It is important to note, however, that this type of vaccine doesn't directly protect against cancer of the cervix. Instead, it prevents a person from contracting certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV), which have been linked with cervical cancer. If a person never contracts these types of HPV, she may be less likely to develop cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer is a disease that affects the neck-like portion of the uterus. This life-threatening form of cancer is one of the most common among women. In the past, doctors lacked concrete methods of preventing this type of cancer, but that has changed with the development of the cervical cancer jab. This vaccination can prevent young women from contracting HPVs, which can cause cervical cancer. A female who has received the cervical cancer jab may still develop cervical cancer due to other causes, however.

The cervical cancer jab does protect against some HPVs, but not all of them. This isn't much cause for concern, however, as only some strains of HPV are known to cause cervical cancer. For this reason, the cervical cancer jab is targeted to the forms of HPV that are considered the most dangerous.

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It is important to understand that a person can have one of the dangerous types of HPV without having cervical cancer. Only a percentage of those with these viruses are diagnosed with this type of cancer. Likewise, it is also possible to develop cancer of the cervix without being infected with HPV. Still, many scientists believe the vaccine prevents more than 60 percent of new cases of the disease.

The cervical cancer jab is not available for all women. Instead, it is usually reserved for use in females who are between the ages of 11 and 26. Many doctors particularly recommend administering the vaccine to girls who have yet to become sexually active, as it is considered most effective when given at this time. This makes sense, as a sexually active female may have already been exposed to the HPVs against which the vaccine protects. In such a case, the vaccine is unlikely to prove effective.

Interestingly, the cervical cancer jab is sometimes administered to boys and young men as well. In such a case, however, it is intended to provide protection against genital warts. Usually, males receive it when they are between the ages of nine and 26.

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