PETALING JAYA: A new vaccine just introduced in Malaysia protects against the human papilloma virus (HPV) types that together cause around 90% of cervical cancer, says a consultant gynaecological oncologist.
The vaccine, Gardasil 9, offers protection against nine HPV types – 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58.
Currently, available vaccines only protect against two and four types, respectively.
Dr Suresh Kumarasamy said seven of these nine HPV types could cause cervical, vulvar and vaginal cancers, as well as anal cancer in both men and women.
All nine types are responsible for some 80% of moderate to severe pre-cancerous lesions or cell changes, which may lead to cancer if not treated.
The vaccine would also help to protect against genital warts, which are usually caused by HPV types 6 and 11.
University Malaya Medical Centre consultant gynaecological oncologist Prof Dr Woo Yin Ling said there was a great need to increase the prevention of the disease through vaccination and regular screening.
“Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among women in the country.
“HPV types 52 and 58, in particular, are most common among Malaysian women.”
Free HPV vaccines have been provided to girls in Form One since 2010 under the National Immunisation Programme.
Sexually-active women are recommended to get pap smear screening within three years of first having sex. Pap smears are free at government hospitals and clinics.
According to the 2006 National Health And Morbidity Survey, only 47.3% of eligible women have ever had one.