Saturday, August 14, 2010

Research Shows Gardasil Effective in Preventing Anal Intraepithelial Neoplasia (AIN)

Most people are familiar with the connection between HPV and cervical cancer. Merck Pharmaceuticals, makers of the Gardasil vaccine focus mainly on HPV as the causative agent in cervical cancer. However, what most people do not know is that it is also the causative agent for vaginal, vulvar and anal cancer.

Since it's approval by the FDA for use in protecting against CIN (cervial intraepithelial neoplasia) and potentially cervial cancer, the FDA has also approved Gardasil for protection against both VIN (vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia) and VaIN (vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia) and the potential cancers which result if left untreated.

There is a long standing connection between AIN (anal intraepithelial neoplasia) and anal cancer to HPV. In fact, HPV is considered to be responsible for 99% of anal cancers. Since the publication of this new research, hopefully the FDA will quickly approve the inclusion of AIN in the indications for the Gardasil vaccine. This research showed a 74% protection rate against the development of AIN lesions.

While an HPV connection was never mentioned, most people are aware that Farrah Fawcett died last June of anal cancer. In the subsequent documentary no public service announcement was made letting people know that this is a preventable cancer. Individuals with HPV and more specifically those with anal involvementfrom HPV were sorely disappointed that a PSA was omitted.

Doctors and other healthcare providers need to be more proactive in educating patients not only about HPV and cervial cancer, but about its connection to these other cancers as well. Unfortunately because of the lack of medical organizations such as the Society for Colon and Rectal Surgeons to educate their members on this connection, it fails to be conveyed to patients. This makes obtaining an anal pap for HPV (similar to the cervical pap) is almost impossible to obtain.

One of the ways that will bring about change is for patient's to continue to request the anal pap. Eventually, providers will realize the significance of offering this service. Professional organizations however must get on board and focus on educating their members. These are preventable cancers, and more needs to be done to bring this into awareness.