According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, head and neck cancer affects 13,500 Americans each year, and is the most common malignancy caused by HPV. A recent STAT News article noted that the disease can now be prevented with the same vaccine that prevents HPV. For the past decade, evidence has suggested this might be the case, but the FDA just made it official, granting accelerated approval for Merck’s Gardasil 9.
The vaccine, which is recommended for males and females ages 9 to 45, prevents cervical, vulvar, vaginal, and anal cancer as well as genital warts. Cancers of the head and neck, especially those of the tonsils and throat, were left off the list until this month. The FDA approved the drug based on data related to preventing anogenital infection.