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U.K. study finds HPV vaccine reduced cervical cancer rates by 87%

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U.K. study finds HPV vaccine reduced cervical cancer rates by 87%

A whole new study shows for the first time worldwide evidence that vaccination against two types of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) prevents women from getting cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer cases have dramatically reduced among women who received a vaccine against Human papillomavirus (HPV) between the ages of 12 and 13, says a new study published in the British Medical Journal The Lancet. It is the first direct worldwide evidence that vaccination against two types of HPV prevents women from getting cervical cancer.

HPV: an infectious agent responsible for cancers

HPV is a sexually transmitted infection that can cause cervical (uterine cervix), penile, and oropharyngeal cancer later in life. HPV is really common around the globe. Women are much more affected than men, although they can be affected as well. Indeed, it is estimated that 570,000 women and 60,000 men worldwide get HPV-related cancer each year. The majority of cervical cancer cases are caused by HPV.

Fighting against HPV through vaccination

Most people infected with HPV at some point in their lives got infected after becoming sexually active. Thus, more than 100 countries offer HPV vaccinations to young girls as a preventative measure against the infection. In the UK, a National Health Service (NHS) vaccination program led in vaccinating massively female teenagers ageing from 12 to 13. Thanks to this program, the Lancet has noticed that these women, now aged twenty, were 87 percent lower having cervical cancer than in those who are unvaccinated. Cases of cervical cancer for women in their twenties, which are already rare in this age group, dropped from 50 cases per year to only five cases.

The most comprehensive data-based research

Experts analysed data collected between 2006 and 2019 from a cancer registry and compared cervical cancer rates between women who were not vaccinated and those inoculated against HPV with the vaccine Cervarix, which protects against two common strains of human papillomavirus that causes 70 to 80 percent of all cervical cancers. The research team also split vaccinated individuals into groups based on what age they were inoculated.

An efficiency that decreases with age

Cervical cancer rates in women who received the vaccine when they were between 14 and 16 were reduced by 62 percent. Women who received the vaccine in their late teens between 16 and 18 had a 34 percent reduction in cervical cancer rates.

“This represents an important step forward in cervical cancer prevention. We hope that these new results encourage uptake as the success of the vaccination program relies not only on the efficacy of the vaccine but also the proportion of the population vaccinated,” says study author Kate Soldan of the UK Health Security Agency.

Researchers found that those vaccinated at an earlier age, between 12 and 13, had greater success at preventing cervical cancer because the vaccines work best when given before being exposed to the virus. The vaccine was less effective for older girls who may be sexually active and more likely to be exposed to the virus before getting vaccinated.

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