Routine vaccination of 12 to 13-year-old girls against HPV has reduced the rate of cervical disease by nearly 90%
- All girls in the UK have been offered the vaccine since 2008 at the age of 12 or 13 years
- Research of 138,000 women shows that the number of abnormal cervical cells has decreased
- These are considered as one of the warning signs of cervical cancer
According to routine vaccination of British schoolgirls against the HPV virus, this has led to a dramatic reduction in cervical disease later in life.
All schoolgirls in the UK have been offered the human papillomavirus vaccine since 2008 at the age of 12 or 13 years.
The new study of 138,000 women in Scotland shows that the program has reduced the number of abnormal cervical cells – one of the cervical cancer warning signs – by nearly 90 percent.
They hope they will be able to prove over time that it has also reduced cervical cancer, but the full impact will not be known until the vaccinated girls enter their late 20s and 30s.
All schoolgirls in the UK have been offered the human papillomavirus vaccine since 2008 at the age of 12 or 13 years
About 3,200 British women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year and 1,000 die each year with the disease.
Researchers looked at the impact of the vaccination program at the level of abnormal cells and cervical lesions, known as cervical intraepithelial neoplasia or CIN, which may be the early warning signs of cervical cancer.
The higher the CIN grade, the higher the risk of invasive cancer.
The team, led by Tim Palmer at the University of Edinburgh, analyzed vaccination and screening records for 138,692 women born between 1988 and 1996 who had a screening test at the age of 20.
They found that, compared to unvaccinated women born in 1988, vaccinated women born in 1995 and 1996 showed an 89 percent reduction in CIN grade 3 or lower, an 88 percent reduction in CIN grade 2 or lower and an 79 percent reduction. in CIN grade 1.
Unvaccinated women also showed a reduction in the disease, suggesting that interruption of HPV transmission in Scotland has created significant “herd protection,” researchers said.
WILL BOYS IN THE UK BE OFFERED THE HPV VACCINE?
About two million boys in the UK are missing the HPV vaccine because of the government’s refusal to give them a catch-up, it was reported in December.
Ministers announced in the summer that the life-saving injections, given to teenage girls since 2008, would also be offered to boys.
When the rollout for girls was announced ten years ago, officials offered a catch-up program for young people between 13 and 18 years old.
But this same 13-to-18 add-on is not being offered to boys who, hopefully, can get the vaccine between 12 and 13 years from 2019.
Critics fear that this may mean that a generation of boys who are too old to be eligible for the vaccine will not be protected against the virus, which can cause cancer of the penis and anus.
The study, published in the British Medical Journal, said: ‘Routine vaccination of 12-13 year old girls with the bivalent HPV vaccine in Scotland has led to a dramatic reduction in pre-invasive cervical disease.
“The bivalent vaccine has been confirmed as a very effective vaccine and should greatly reduce the incidence of cervical cancer.
“The findings must be taken into consideration globally through cervical cancer prevention programs.”
Dr. Kevin Pollock, senior researcher at Glasgow Caledonian University and co-author of the study, said: “The conclusion is that the vaccine has exceeded expectations.
“It is associated with near-elimination of both low and high cervical disorders in young Scottish women eight years after the vaccination program was started.
“The numbers are impressive and show a reduction of up to 90 percent in cervical disease abnormalities – pre-cancerous cells.
“These data are consistent with the reduced circulation of high-risk HPV infections in Scotland and confirm that the HPV vaccine should significantly reduce cervical cancer in the coming years.
“Indeed, cases of cervical cancer in women aged 20-24 have decreased by 69 percent since 2012.”
Robert Music, CEO of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, said: “The findings of this study are very exciting and clearly demonstrate the impact of the HPV vaccine in protecting the cervical health of future generations.
“We are lucky to have such an effective prevention program, which means that the elimination of cervical cancer is firmly on the horizon.
“Focus on communities and areas where uptake is below the national average should be a priority.”
The government plans to extend the vaccination program to boys next year.
Boys were not included in the vaccination program, but the ministers changed course after the Joint Committee for vaccination and vaccination advised that the scheme be extended to boys of the same age.
HPV is thought to cause about 2500 cancer cases in men every year and about 650 deaths, mainly from throat and cancer.
HPV is spread through sexual contact and is given in the early teens so that an immune response is initiated before they become sexually active.
WHAT IS HPV? THE INFECTION ASSOCIATED WITH 99% OF CERVIC CANCER CASES
Up to eight out of 10 people are infected with HPV in their lives
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the name for a group of viruses that affect your skin and the moist membranes along your body.
Spread through vaginal, anal and oral sex and skin-to-skin contact between genitals, it is very common.
Up to eight in ten people will be infected with the virus at some point in their lives.
There are more than 100 types of HPV. About 30 of them can affect the genital area. Genital HPV infections are common and highly contagious.
Many people never show symptoms because they can occur years after infection and most cases disappear without treatment.
It can lead to genital warts and it is also known to create cervical cancer caused by abnormal tissue growth.
Annually, an average of 38,000 cases of HPV-related cancers are diagnosed in the US, 3,100 cases of cervical cancer in the UK and about 2,000 other cancers in men.
HPV can also cause cancer of the throat, neck, tongue, tonsils, vulva, vagina, penis or anus. It can take years for cancer to develop.