Taking Care of an Ill Loved One

Cervical Cancer Vaccine: Is It Really Necessary for Your Tween?

If your family doctor offers your tween daughter the cervical cancer vaccine, you may wonder if it's really necessary for her to get it. Although the vaccine may seem scary to you and your loved one, it may actually protect your daughter from a number of conditions, including cervical cancer and vaginal cancer. In addition, the cervical cancer vaccine may prevent cancer of the neck and head. Here's how cervical cancer develops and how the cervical cancer vaccine works.

What is Cervical Cancer?

Cervical cancer is one of most deadliest diseases women and teens face today, especially if it goes unprevented, untreated or undetected. The human papillomavirus, or HPV, causes cervical cancer and is generally spread through sexual contact. The virus changes the how the cells of the cervix grow and develop. In some cases, cervical cancer cells may spread to other body tissues and develop into a secondary cancers. 

Individuals infected with HPV typically develop lesions, such as warts, on their external genitals and internal organs, including the cervix and vagina. Once the cells of the cervix become cancerous, individuals may exhibit a number of symptoms that range from cramping in the pelvic region to bleeding of the vagina that doesn't relate to menstruation. Some individuals experience a foul-smelling discharge as well.

The cervical cancer vaccine can help protect your tween if she receives it early.

How Can Cervical Cancer Vaccine Protect Your Tween?

Although your tween may not be sexually active, the vaccine protects her from the human papillomavirus in the future. A number of medical sources recommend that young people between the ages of 11-12 years old receive the cervical cancer vaccine. A family practitioner may administer three separate shots over a course of six months. Your tween's doctor will discuss the actual vaccination time for your child during the first visit.

Your tween may experience some discomfort and swelling in the vaccinated sites but the side effects are usually short-lived. Gently massaging the sites with the pads of your fingers may alleviate some of the discomfort and swelling. It's also possible for your loved one to feel light-headed or nauseous after each shot. Lying down and resting for a few minutes may help the side effects subside. If you have concerns about these minor side effects, be sure to discuss them with your tween's doctor right away.

For more information about HPV or the cervical cancer vaccine, schedule an appointment with a local family practice, such as Valley Medical Care, today.