we am very much in favor of this vaccine. It protects against cancer and precancerous cells and has minimal side effects. HPV is common in the community, and it is likely that most sexually active women will be exposed at one time or another in their lives. We feel the risk-benefit ratio is in favor of giving the vaccine.
we do recognize that we are talking about small numbers. For example, in one study of almost seventeen thousand women, fifty-three women in the placebo group developed severe dysplasia or cancer as compared to no women in the Gardasil group. While that shows 100 percent protection, there were still only six cases of the disease per one thousand women. In other words, you need to vaccinate a thousand women to prevent six cases of severe dysplasia or cancer.
However, as a practicing physician, we regularly run into abnormal pap smears that require additional time and energy on the part of the woman and the medical community. These abnormalities lead to more intensive testing, such as colposcopy, and also more treatments such as freezing or burning the cervix. While the number of actual diagnoses of cervical cancer is quite rare, there are ten times that many abnormal pap smears that this vaccine would prevent.
Finally, we want to say that while we favor this vaccine, we am not in favor of making this vaccine mandatory for school attendance as has been recommended in several states. While we believe in vaccines in general and in this vaccine in particular, we do not feel they should be mandatory. Instead, we respect the right of individual adults and parents to make medical decisions for themselves and their children.