Cases of cervical cancer decreased by almost 90% thanks to HPV vaccine, real world data show

Cases of cervical cancer fell among British women who received a human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination, according to a study published Thursday.

By comparing the incidence of cervical cancer and pre-cancer stages before and after an HPV vaccination program was introduced in the UK in 2008, the researchers found a “significant reduction”, especially among the youngest women who had received the dot, according to results published in The Lancet medical journal.

“Our study provides the first direct evidence of the effect of HPV vaccination using the bivalent Cervarix vaccine on the incidence of cervical cancer,” the authors wrote.

The estimated risk reduction was most noticeable among those who had been vaccinated at the earliest possible age of 12-13 years, with a decrease of 87 percent. Those immunized between the ages of 16-18 experienced a 34 percent decrease, the study found.

Cervical cancer caused by HPV – a common sexually transmitted infection – can be prevented with reliable and safe vaccines and can also be cured if caught early and treated.

Last year, the World Health Organization launched a global strategy to eliminate the disease, which is one of the most common female cancers and kills hundreds of thousands annually.

While the latest study seems to support the widespread use of HPV vaccines, the uptake and availability of the shots poses a problem, according to a comment accompanying the results.

“Even in a wealthy country, such as England with free access to HPV immunization, admission has not reached the 90 percent vaccination target for girls aged 15 years set by the WHO,” wrote gynecologists Maggie Cruickshank and Mihaela Grigore.

“Covid-19 is an additional challenge for the delivery of HPV vaccination, but only adds to a long list, including access to affordable vaccines, infrastructure for low-temperature controlled supply chains, delivery and waste disposal.”

The authors of the study also noted several limitations, including that cervical cancer rarely occurs in the age group they studied – people today not older than 25 – even in the absence of vaccines.

© Agence France-Presse

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