Specifically, the study included 200 surveys conducted between February and December 2004 at gynecology and adolescent medical clinics at The University of Texas, Galveston. Women with children between the ages of eight and 14 were asked to take the survey, which was available in both English and Spanish. Women also received an education statement that explained that the human papillomavirus (HPV) is a virus that can cause cervical cancer. The statement also explained that scientific studies showed that a cervical cancer vaccine may be available within the next couple of years, and that this vaccine would work by preventing HPV, which is transmitted through sexual contact.
Results showed that 76 percent of women surveyed would be willing to accept a cervical cancer vaccine for themselves. Sixty-seven percent of women who had a daughter would consent to have their child vaccinated, compared to 64 percent of women with a son.
Stated reasons for women not accepting the vaccine included unknown side effects and not currently being sexually active. Reasons for refusing consent for their children to be vaccinated included: unknown side effects, the belief that minors are not sexually active, and for boys, the belief that there was no direct benefit to them.
As the vaccine would need to be administrated prior to first sexual activity, 23 percent of women who were not willing to vaccinate their children stated that they did not want their child to participate in sex education. In the survey, it was found that 11 years of age was the mean age noted by participants as an appropriate time to provide children with sex education.
"This study shows that education will be key to acceptance of the vaccine," said Diane C. Bodurka, MD, Department of Gynecologic Oncology, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. "Given that the vaccine may be available in the next five to 10 years, it is critical that we begin educating parents, especially mothers, now about how the vaccine will be crucial to the prevention of cervical cancer. It is also important for everyone to understand that a vaccine will be aimed at both boys and girls, and how this will help prevent the disease worldwide."
Factors influencing a woman's acceptance of the vaccine included their acceptance of all previously recommended vaccines for a child and acceptance of the vaccine for themselves. Neither demographic considerations, such as income, religion, race and education, nor a history of an abnormal Pap test were found to alter the patterns of potential acceptance of the vaccine.
More information about the study can be found in the manuscript "Are Women Ready for the Cervical Cancer Vaccine?" The authors of the study are: Diane C. Bodurka, MD, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center; Brian M. Slomovitz, MD, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center; Charlotte C. Sun, DrPH, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center; Michael Frumovitz, MD, MPH, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center; Pamela T. Soliman, MD, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center; Heidi C. Pearson, University of Texas - Main Branch, Galveston; Abbey Berenson, MD, University of Texas - Main Branch, Galveston; and Karen H. Lu, MD, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.
Worldwide, more than 500,000 women die of cervical cancer each year. There are 10,520 new cervical cancers diagnosed in the U.S. each year and approximately 3,900 deaths from the disease.
The SGO is a national medical specialty organization of physicians who are trained in the comprehensive management of women with malignancies of the reproductive tract. Its purpose is to improve the care of women with gynecologic cancer by encouraging research, disseminating knowledge which will raise the standards of practice in the prevention and treatment of gynecologic malignancies and cooperating with other organizations interested in women's health care, oncology and related fields. The Society's membership is primarily comprised of gynecologic oncologists, as well as other related medical specialists such as, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and pathologists. SGO members provide multidisciplinary cancer care including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, supportive care and surgery. More information on the SGO can be found at www.sgo.org.