The FDA today approved Merck’s Gardasil HPV vaccine for prevention of anal cancer in both males and females ages 9 through 26 years.
HPV — human papillomavirus — is a sexually transmitted infection. It most commonly causes genital warts, but it also causes several cancers and precancerous lesions.
However, the vaccine is routinely recommended only for girls. It remains optional for boys. Another HPV vaccine, Cervarix, is approved only for cancer prevention in girls.
Anal cancer is relatively rare in the U.S. — about 5,300 cases a year. However, cases have been steadily increasing.