The HPV Jab Could Eradicate Cervical Cancer Within Decades, Say Scientists
Vaccinations against the human papilloma virus (HPV), which causes most cervical cancers, began over a decade ago. Now, a review looking at the jab's effectiveness in 14 different countries including the UK, has shown a sharp fall in HPV cases and in pre-cancerous growths.
Over further decades, this could translate into a significant reduction and possible eradication of the cancer, according to scientists who carried out the research, published in medical journal The Lancet.
The HPV vaccine is given as two injections to girls aged 12 and 13. It protects against four types of HPV including the kind linked to 70 per cent of cervical cancers and the kind that cause roughly 90 per cent of genital warts.
Girls who miss the jab at school can get it for free on the NHS up to the age of 25, or privately for around £150 per dose. Boys aged 12-13 will also be offered it from September.
The review found cases of certain types of HPV have fallen by 83 per cent in girls aged 15-19 and 66 per cent in women aged 20-24.
Genital warts cases are down 67 per cent in girls aged 15-19 and 54 per cent in women aged 20-24.
Pre-cancerous growths have also reduced - by 51 per cent in girls aged 15-19 and 31 per cent in women aged 20-24.
Professor Marc Brisson, from Laval University in Canada, who led the review, said cervical cancer elimination "might be possible if sufficiently high vaccination coverage can be achieved and maintained."
"We sincerely hope this will boost public faith in the HPV vaccine, so that more lives can be saved and we get closer to a world where cervical cancer is a thing of the past," said Robert Music, chief executive of Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust.
The HPV vaccine does not protect against all cervical cancer-causing types of HPV, however, so women should still be going for regular screening.
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