HPV subtype 16 was the most commonly detected HPV type among all “high grade” (read this: ominous) cervical lesions. Half of the high-grade cervical lesions had HPV 16 or 18 involved. Then, another 25% of high grade cervical lesions are attributable to five additional HPV types (types 31/33/45/52/58). Currently there are two HPV vaccines: Cervarix carries HPV types 16 and 18 and Gardasil carries HPV types 6, 11, 16 and 18.
Cells on the cervix can vary from normal to cancer—there is a continuum of abnormalities between the two. The nearer to cancer the cells are the more “dysplastic” or abnormal under a microscope they look. Goals of this research are to quantify the risk of the subtype of HPV to the chance of having significant cervical cell dysplasia (or change). Investigators are also looking into many questions: should we treat males and females the same? What age range is best served? What schedule is most effective of vaccine administration?
Our current HPV vaccines do not cover for all the above HPV subtypes that cause cervical dysplasia. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) is looking into a 9-valent vaccine which may cover for more of the HPV strains that have been found to be oncogenic (cancer-causing).
I’ll stay tuned…