December 23, 2010
Yesterday, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took action to move cancer prevention forward with the approval of a vaccine for prevention of anal cancer and anal intraepithelialneoplasia (AIN) due to human papillomavirus (HPV) types 6, 11, 16, and 18 in males and females ages 9 to 26. The vaccine has been approved previously in other indications, for the prevention of cervical, vulvar and vaginal cancer in women of the same age range.
Incidence of anal cancer in the United States is low, but rising. This year, there have been about 5,300 new cases and about 700 deaths. Last year, anal cancer took the life of actress Farrah Fawcett.
The vaccine prevents several strains of HPV, a virus which causes about nine out of every 10 cases of anal cancer, as well as cervical and vaginal cancer in women.
There are no standardized screening recommendations for anal cancer for the general population. Approval of the vaccine provides health care professionals with an important tool in prevention of anal cancer. Visit www.preventcancer.org for more information about HPV and cancer prevention.