HPV vaccine reduced cervical cancer by 90% in Scotland, study finds

HPV vaccine reduced cervical cancer by 90% in Scotland, study finds

A cervical cancer survivor has hailed the "amazing news" that research suggests a national vaccination programme in schools has dramatically cut the disease in later life in Scotland.

The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually-transmitted infection and some types are linked to cervical cancer, one of the most common cancers in women under 35 in the UK. The programme was school based, targeting girls aged 12 and 13 years, supplemented with a three-year catch-up programme to the age of 18 years.

Compared to these unvaccinated women, they found, the women vaccinated as young girls were far less likely to have any kind of cervical disease, defined as the growth of abnormal cells in the cervix. The higher the CIN grade number, the higher the risk is of developing invasive cancer.

Compared with unvaccinated women born in 1988, vaccinated women born in 1995 and 1996 showed reductions of between 79 and 89 per cent for all grades of CIN.

The latest findings from the British Medical Journal (BMJ) reveal cervical cancer screenings of women aged 20 are showing a major decline in cervical disease. However, the researchers believe it "should greatly reduce the incidence of cervical cancer".

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.

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The researchers from the University of Edinburgh also discovered that the vaccine was more effective in younger women. She called for scaling up of HPV vaccination to countries where it is not yet available or accepted.

CIN is divided into grades; CIN1, 2+ or 3+. According to the website, the vaccine can protect against certain diseases, including cancers, and was especially recommended for young men who identify as gay or bisexual through age 26.

"This shows that rare types of cervical cancer can be effectively prevented through screening", says co-author Professor Pär Sparén at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet, guarantor of the study.

Jo's Trust, a cervical cancer charity that reviewed the paper, commented: 'We think (it has) massive implications for the screening programme, vaccine and also impacts on diagnoses in the future.

According to the authors, there's been a reduction of up to 90% of cervical disease abnormalities (or pre-cancerous cells).

They said: 'Different modelling approaches have been used to inform optimal scenarios for screening of vaccinated women but have converged on the conclusion that, for some women, two or three screens in a lifetime using HPV testing might be sufficient.

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