Immunisation stimulates the body’s immune system to protect against specific diseases, including precancerous viral infections.
There are currently two vaccines available that may reduce your risk of developing certain cancers:
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine and HPV-related cancers
- Hepatitis B vaccine and primary liver cancer
Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination
HPV is a very common sexually transmitted infection that affects both males and females. HPV is responsible for almost all cervical cancer cases, and a high proportion of other cancers (eg anal, vaginal, penile, cancers of the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils).
The HPV vaccine Gardasil provides the following:
- protection from two high risk types of HPV, which cause 70% of cervical cancers in women and 90% of HPV-related cancers in men
- protection from two low risk types of HPV, which cause 90% of genital warts.
Males and females 14 and over can also benefit from the vaccine but there are out of pocket expenses involved. Talk to your GP.
Hepatitis B vaccination
In Australia, hepatitis B infection is one of the major risk factors for primary liver cancer. Primary liver cancer is the fastest-growing cause of cancer death, and incidence is also increasing more quickly than other cancers.
Hepatitis B is spread by contact with infected blood, semen and other body fluids. The most common way Hepatitis B is spread is during pregnancy or delivery, from mother to baby.
A Hepatitis B vaccination (HBV) is recommended as part of routine childhood immunisation, and is free through the National Immunisation Program Schedule. The vaccine is also available for adolescents and high risk adults through state and territory governments.
One in three people with chronic hepatitis B in Australia do not know they have it. Your GP can perform a hepatitis B blood test that can determine whether you:
- have chronic hepatitis B
- had hepatitis B in the past
- have already been vaccinated
- need a vaccine to protect you.
If you have chronic hepatitis B, ask your doctor for a referral to a liver specialist. The specialist will help you decide whether you need treatment, and discuss the options with you. Not everyone with chronic hepatitis B will need treatment.
The information available on this page should not be used as a substitute for advice from a properly qualified medical professional who can advise you about your own individual medical needs. It is not intended to constitute medical advice and is provided for general information purposes only. See our Disclaimer.