Every person in Britain should get the anti-cancer HPV shot to prevent a series of deadly tumors and "save thousands of lives," world-renowned medical experts said last week.
So far, most of the discussion about the vaccine has focused on young people because giving it at a young age provides lifelong protection.
But according to & # 39; the world's leading HPV researchers, there is now evidence that giving the jab to adults from the age of 20 to middle age would also bring dramatic health benefits.
If the government and the health leaders follow their advice, this would trigger the first mass vaccination program of British working-age adults since the polio campaign of the 1950s.
HPV – the human papillomavirus – is spread through intimate contact and, in some cases, kisses. It is frighteningly common: without vaccination, about 80 percent of us will become infected at some point in our lives. In most cases there will be few or no symptoms.
The virus lurks in the basal cells below the surface of the skin or mucous membranes and in many cases does no damage.
Until now, most of the discussion about the vaccine has been aimed at young people because giving it at a young age provides lifelong protection (stock image)
But in other cases it will cause cancer – which may not have occurred for decades.
HPV is known to cause cervical cancer and a range of other cancers, including tumors of the mouth, tongue, throat, tonsils, penis and anus.
There are more than 4,000 new British cases of this type of cancer every year and this figure is rising rapidly.
Last year, this newspaper ran a six-month campaign that managed to convince the government to offer the HPV jab to all boys aged 12 and 13. Girls have been receiving this on the NHS since 2008.
The first boys were vaccinated under the new policy earlier this month.
It was believed that vaccination would probably only be effective if given to children before they came in contact with the virus. Many people are already exposed in early adulthood.
But new research suggests that the puncture can prevent patients infected with the virus from developing cancer. It produces an immune system response that is so powerful that it prevents the virus from spreading into the body.
Currently, HPV vaccination is only available privately for anyone who has not received it in school – for an amount of £ 500 for the full course of three.
But the researchers suggest that offering to adults as part of a nationwide program can be cost effective because of the huge reduction in the incidence of cancer that it would cause.
"Most people don't realize that HPV infection is a global epidemic," says Professor Margaret Stanley of the University of Cambridge, president of the International Papillomavirus Society.
"And the easiest way to prevent the spread of this virus and the diseases it causes is to give everyone a vaccination."
The new evidence that supports the vaccination of the elderly is summarized in a paper that will soon be published in the International Journal Of Infectious Diseases.
According to such a campaign, the virus would no longer be transferred between adults and the number of cancer cases could decrease.
It was believed that vaccination would probably only be effective if given to children before they came in contact with the virus (stock image)
Patients who had already suffered from HPV-related cancer could also benefit from this because it could reduce the risk of relapse.
One of the co-authors of the study is the Barcelona oncologist Xavier Bosch, the scientist who first demonstrated that HPV causes cancer.
He demonstrated more than 20 years ago that HPV is the only cause of cervical tumors, which still affect around 3,200 women in the UK, causing around 850 deaths. It was his work that led to vaccination programs for adolescent girls.
But he believes it is now time to expand the age range.
"We have an excellent vaccine that certainly protects girls, but also adults. People have the right to know this, & he says.
The vaccine, Dr. Bosch, & # 39; offers much better protection & # 39; than regular cervical screening.
If you give it to adult women, it can mean that they only need one or two smears in their lives, instead of every three years.
The first version of the vaccine, Gardasil 4, was developed by the pharmaceutical company Merck and has a license for use in 2006.
There are more than 100 HPV strains and, as the name suggests, Gardasil 4 provides protection against four of them, including the two that cause 70 percent of cancers and the two that usually cause genital warts.
The latest version, Gardasil 9, covers nine species and prevents 85 percent of cases.
Linked cancers: Desperate Housewives star Marcia Cross and her husband Tom Mahoney
Anti-vaccination campaigners have claimed that the vaccine can cause serious side effects, such as chronic fatigue syndrome.
But the experts who spoke with this newspaper say there is no scientific evidence that these or other adverse conditions are more common in people who have had the vaccine – a conclusion supported by the World Health Organization.
In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control have already recommended that the vaccine be licensed for men up to 26 years old and women up to 45 years old.
However, there is already a worldwide shortage of vaccines, which would hamper wider use in the elderly in the short term.
Merck has promised to remedy this. A regular spokeswoman says it is investing more than £ 1 billion in new factories and plans to double production from the level of 170 million in 2018 by the end of next year, and to triple it by 2023.
One of the most striking findings in the new Dr. article. Bosch and his colleagues are that, unlike most vaccines against viruses or bacteria, vaccination for HPV has hugely beneficial effects in patients who have already been infected, as well as those who have managed to prevent the virus.
The threat hung over me … but now I'm protected
Elba Aman was 37 when she decided to spend hundreds of pounds to get the HPV shot
Elba Aman was 37 when she decided to spend hundreds of pounds to get the HPV injection at a pharmacy.
Three years earlier, the mother-of-one, who lives with her partner in West Hampstead, London, had an abnormal smear on the cervix.
She was sent for a colposcopy – a procedure that looks into the cervix – and a large area of cells, most likely cancer and spreading, was discovered. Cause? HPV.
"It was a worrying time," says filmmaker Elba, now 38 years old. "I looked up everything about the HPV virus. Then I discovered that young girls were vaccinated against it. & # 39;
Elba underwent a cone biopsy – an operation to remove a cone-shaped piece of tissue from the cervix – to get rid of the abnormal cells. About six months later, tests showed that she was free from HPV and possibly cancer cells.
Although Elba was told that afterwards she should have no problems getting pregnant, she was warned that she might have a premature birth due to the removal of the area.
But about two years ago she gave birth to a healthy girl at 38 weeks. After a gynecological check it was suggested that she had the HPV test.
"A friend of mine was vaccinated and I thought it would be a good idea to do it," she says.
"Doctors cannot categorically say that the prick will prevent cancer, but I was told it would provide protection.
"It's not free at the NHS for people my age, so I had to make an appointment at Boots.
"I have had three separate injections for six months – each costing £ 165 – but it was well worth the money. I feel much happier when I know I am protected. & # 39;
HPV infections are highly localized and do not cause a complete immune system response – meaning that the body usually does not produce the antibodies to fight infection.
But the vaccine causes a "high immune response" that is so powerful that it effectively neutralizes the virus. This means that if those who carry the virus receive the vaccine, they will no longer transfer HPV to a sexual partner because their secretions no longer contain HPV.
Earlier this year, American TV actress Marcia Cross revealed that she had been treated for anal cancer – which doctors said would probably be related to the throat cancer of her husband Tom Mahoney, who was diagnosed ten years ago. Both tumors were caused by HPV. The star of Desperate Housewives and her husband are now both cancer-free. Adult HPV vaccination also means that a mother with HPV can no longer transfer it to their baby – eliminating the risk of respiratory papillomatosis, a painful, often fatal condition in which warts repeatedly grow in the airways of a child, requiring frequent operations to stop them from choking to death.
And, the paper says, the risk of a patient who has already had cervical cancer and subsequently receives the vaccine that is suffering from a return of his cancer has been reduced to an astonishing extent – more than 80 percent.
The evidence also suggests that vaccination from someone who is already infected with HPV can protect them from ever developing an HPV-related cancer.
Dr. Bosch says the puncture can prevent the virus from spreading from tissues that are not susceptible to cancer to the cervix and work in the throat in the same way by preventing viral particles from affecting the soft palate, tongue base and infect almonds, which are wonderfully susceptible to carcinogenic HPV strains & # 39 ;.
He added: "We have little information about this so far, but we are actively working on it."
His colleague and co-author, Alex Vorsters, says: "We have less data about men, but it is clear that the same principles are at work."
He said there was no reason to limit vaccination to people younger than 45 and added: "I don't see age as a problem. The larger your vaccine cohort, the more you reduce cancer.
"If the price of the vaccine falls, there is no reason not to vaccinate everyone, both men and women."
Prof. Stanley points out that there is a peak in the incidence of HPV cancers when people reach the age of 60, because their entire immune system is weakening.
"HPV breaks the usual vaccination rules," she says.
"Vaccinating older, infected people makes cancer less likely to develop."
Meanwhile, doctors say they have noticed enormous benefits when vaccinating adult patients.
Sean Cummings, a private physician and sexual health expert who founded the Harley Street Freedom Health Clinic, cites several cases, including an early middle-aged man covered from head to toe by painful, deforming warts, caused by HPV.
They were in his mouth, on his face, his torso and genitals, and no treatment attempted. Cummings to work.
In addition, the man was HIV positive, so his immune system had already been seriously compromised.
Finally, Dr. Cummings prescribed the three jab cure for the HPV vaccine.
The results, says Dr. Cummings were quick and dramatic. "I gave him his first dose of the vaccine, and a few days later he called me in anger to say he was erupting.
& # 39; But the next day it was gone – and soon all warts were gone. It was like magic. & # 39;
The warts never came back.
Dr. Cummings handled several other comparable cases, the results of which were equally successful.
He adds, "It is likely that giving the vaccine will interrupt cancer progression at any age."
He said he had noticed that in some patients who had cancer, the vaccine seemed to make their cancer "less aggressive" and moreover prevent a new tumor from developing.
Among thousands of people he had vaccinated, he had never seen anyone develop a negative reaction: "This is a fantastic vaccine. I see no disadvantage. & # 39;
The conclusion of the new article is only slightly more cautious and says there must be "further research" into the benefits of vaccinating people who were already HPV positive.
This adds that it would provide evidence that the vaccine would be much more cost-effective.
. (TagsToTranslate) Dailymail (t) health