Woman treated for cervical cancer welcomes HPV vaccine success

Grant Boone
April 6, 2019

ROUTINE vaccinations against HPV for schoolgirls in Scotland has led to a dramatic reduction in cervical disease in later life, research shows.

HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections and many countries, including the United Kingdom, offer vaccination to girls to protect them against cervical cancer, and other related cancers, in later life.

In countries like Scotland, though, routine HPV vaccination was quickly adopted and made commonplace, thanks to a nationally funded vaccination program that targeted 12-to-13-year-old girls starting in 2008, along with a later program that targeted older teens.

High-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) is the leading cause of cervical cancer and was identified by the study in 70 per cent of the rare tumors in which such typing was possible.

They also found that unvaccinated women born in 1995-96 had a 63% reduction in grade 1 CIN, a 67% reduction in grade 2 CIN and a 100% reduction in grade 3 CIN compared to women born in 1988-90, suggesting that the HPV vaccine has created a significant herd protection effect.

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They say this study demonstrates that routine immunisation with the bivalent HPV vaccine is highly effective against high grade cervical disease, and they call for reappraisal of screening and referral services to reflect this evidence. The vaccine is known to be more effective in those who have not yet encountered HPV, which is a sexually transmitted infection.

"Given that sexual minority men are also at highest risk for testing positive for HIV, there is an urgency in ensuring HPV vaccination before these young men engage in sexual behavior", he said. The higher the number, the higher the risk is of developing invasive cancer. "Ultimately, the clinical and economic rationale for cervical screening will need to be reviewed".

"It is associated with near elimination of both low and high-grade cervical disease in young Scottish women 8 years after the vaccine programme started". The study did not look at how this will translate into rates of cervical cancer.

'It also feeds into our policy calls for a new IT infrastructure (for the screening programme in England) to record and enable invitations based on whether someone has at the vaccine if intervals can be extended'.

According to the authors, there's been a reduction of up to 90% of cervical disease abnormalities (or pre-cancerous cells). But Palmer says his team is already at work studying screening data that might show the vaccine's effectiveness at preventing earlier cases of cancer.

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