Cervical cancer is the second-largest cancer in incidence and mortality for women worldwide. According to the Central Cancer Registry, as of 2019, there were 254,718 cancer patients in Korea, of which 3,273 were cervical cancer. However, cervical cancer is also a cancer that can be prevented by vaccines. Nevertheless, we do not know much about cervical cancer and often think little of it. From now on, let's find out what kind of disease cervical cancer is and what information you need to know before getting vaccinated.
Cervical cancer is mainly caused by infection caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). This human papilloma virus spreads through sex and it is possible to become infected more than once in a lifetime after starting to have sex. 7 to 80% of infections disappear naturally without treatment, so infection with the human papilloma virus does not necessarily mean that it will be developed cervical cancer. In addition, the stage before cancer cells completely become cancer is called the "pre-cancer stage," and cervical cancer is difficult to detect early because it goes through this pre-cancer stage for a long period.
The HPV vaccine varies depending on the type of human papilloma virus that is prevented, and it is divided into three types: Servarix 2, Gadasil 2, and Gadasil 9. In particular, Gadasil 9, which prevents nine HPV infections, are also preventive on various diseases such as anal cancer, vulva cancer, vaginal cancer, penile cancer, testicular cancer, and warts. The most ideal period of vaccination is between the ages of 9 and 13 without sexual experience, but it is recommended until the age of 26. If you are 26 years of age or older and you have already sexual experience, it is recommended to get vaccinated because the vaccine is still preventive.
Various hospitals are now providing HPV vaccination such as internal medicine, gynecology, and dermatology, so you can get a shot at any time if you visit a nearby hospital. You will be vaccinated 2 to 3 times in total, and it is 2 times for those aged 9 to 14 and 3 times for those aged 15 or older. If you are vaccinated twice, the second inoculation is made six months after the first inoculation, and if you are vaccinated three times, you’ll get a second shot after two months from the first inoculation, and the third shot is made four months after the second. And if you can't get a shot on the scheduled vaccination day, it's more effective to delay the date than to get it before the scheduled date.
The cost is about 210,000 won per dose based on Gadasil 9. However, I recommend that you choose a hospital after considering various factors because each hospital has a large price fluctuation and there are some places that offer discounts when paying in advance or accompanied by family. In addition, Korea is currently providing free vaccinations for female teenagers aged 13 to 17 and low-income women under the age of 26. On the website of the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service below, you can find out the hospitals and the approximate price of Gadasil 9.
One of the things people worry about most about vaccines is the side effects. Although the vaccination rate for cervical cancer in Korea is high at about 60%, many people are still reluctant to be vaccinated due to misconceptions and concerns about health. According to a survey by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2016, 73.5% of parents who did not vaccinate their children for HPV said that they were worried about side effects. Before Gadasil 9 was introduced in Korea, false rumors spread that it causes serious side effects such as death, brain injury, and infertility. And many people still believe that this is true. But there is no perfect vaccine in the world. In the case of the flu vaccine, which almost everyone gets every year, 3 to 40% of those who have vaccinated suffer from side effects. Therefore, it is better to follow expert advice rather than to avoid vaccination due to misinformation.
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As such, the HPV virus is a disease that can be sufficiently prevented through prevention and periodic tests. Peter Sasieni, a professor at London King's University, said, "If more people are vaccinated against cervical cancer, cervical cancer will be a rare disease soon." If you have not yet been vaccinated, I hope you will be interested in through this article.