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AN NHS Lanarkshire doctor is encouraging young girls to protect themselves against cancer.
Dr David Cromie, consultant in public health medicine, is urging all girls, between 12 and 13 years old, to take up the offer of a free human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.
The HPV vaccine is designed to protect against the two types of HPV that can cause 70% of cervical cancer cases.
Dr Cromie said: “The human papillomavirus is very common and you can catch it through intimate sexual contact with another person who already has it. Because it is so common, most people will get infected at some point in their life.
“The body’s immune system will usually clear it up and most people will not even know they have contracted the virus. In most women the virus does not cause cervical cancer, but having the vaccine is important because we do not know who is at risk.
“After breast cancer, cervical cancer is the most common women’s cancer in the world. In the UK, around 3,000 cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed every year and about 1,000 women die from it.
“The combination of immunisation and cervical screening offers the best possible protection against cervical cancer.
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The vaccine also protects against the HPV that cause about 90% of the cases of genital warts. However, it does not protect against all other types of HPV, so women are encouraged to have regular cervical screening when they reach the appropriate age.
It is important that girls get the HPV vaccine early enough for it to be effective. The best time for this is in your early teenage years.
The vaccine is given by three injections over a six months period in order to get the best protection.
Girls between the age of 12 and 13 will be told when their immunisation is due by their school. The nurse will give the injection in the upper arm.
Older girls at school, who may have missed out on HPV vaccine doses, will also be re-invited through their school and are encouraged to get vaccinated.
Girls will be given a consent form which should be signed by a parent/guardian.
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