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Explained: Study Finds HPV Vaccine Cuts Cervical Cancer by Nearly 90%

Published
Health News
3 min read
Explained: Study Finds HPV Vaccine Cuts Cervical Cancer by Nearly 90%

The human papillomavirus, or HPV, vaccine is cutting cervical cancer rates among women by nearly 90 percent, according to a new study, BBC reported.

Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women across the world, killing more than 300,000 each year.

About nine in ten deaths are in low and middle income countries which have little access to cervical cancer screening.

"The impact has been huge," said Prof Peter Sasieni, one of the researchers at King's College London was quoted as saying by BBC.

Explained: Study Finds HPV Vaccine Cuts Cervical Cancer by Nearly 90%

  1. 1. What did the study find?

    The results published in the journal The Lancet said that women in their 20s who were got the HPV vaccine between ages of 12 and 13 with a GlaxoSmithKline product called Cervarix, had up to an 87 percent lower risk of developing cervical cancer linked to the virus.

    The study estimated that by mid-2019, there were 450 fewer cases of cervical cancer and 17,200 fewer cases of pre-cancers than expected in the vaccinated population.

    “We hope that these new results encourage uptake as the success of the vaccination programme relies not only on the efficacy of the vaccine but also the proportion of the population vaccinated,” co-author Kate Soldan of the UK Health Security Agency was quoted as saying by Al Jazeera.

    Expand
  2. 2. What is HPV?

    According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), HPV is the most common viral infection of the reproductive tract. Most sexually active women and men will be infected at some point in their lives and some may be repeatedly infected.

    There are more than 100 types of HPV, according to Mayo Clinic. Some types can cause health problems including genital warts and cancers.

    Most HPV infections don't lead to cancer. But some types of genital HPV can cause cancer of the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. Other types of cancers, including cancers of the anus, penis, vagina, vulva and back of the throat, have been linked to HPV infection.

    Expand
  3. 3. How does HPV spread?

    According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you can get HPV by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the virus. It is most commonly spread during vaginal or anal sex. HPV can be passed even when an infected person has no signs or symptoms.

    You can get HPV, even if you have had sex with only one person, and can develop symptoms years after you have sex with someone who is infected, CDC says.

    Expand
  4. 4. How does HPV infection lead to cervical cancer?

    Nearly all cervical cancers are caused by HPV infections. Once infected, most people do not develop any noticeable symptoms.

    According to WHO, it takes 15 to 20 years for cervical cancer to develop in women with normal immune systems. It can take only five to ten years in women with weakened immune systems, such as those with untreated HIV infection.

    Since early cervical cancer doesn't cause symptoms, it's vital that women have regular screening tests.

    Getting vaccinated against HPV infection is your best protection from cervical cancer.

    Expand
  5. 5. Who should get HPV vaccination?

    According to WHO, there are currently three vaccines that have been prequalified, all protecting against both HPV 16 and 18, which are known to cause at least 70 percent of cervical cancers. The third vaccine protects against five additional oncogenic HPV types, which cause a further 20 percent of cervical cancers.

    The vaccines are more effective if administered before being exposed to the virus. Therefore, WHO recommends to vaccinate girls, aged between 9 and 14 years, when most have not started sexual activity.

    Meanwhile, CDC recommends that the HPV vaccine be given to girls and boys between the ages of 11 and 12, and for everyone through age 26 years, if not vaccinated already.

    "Vaccination is not recommended for everyone older than age 26 years. However, some adults age 27 through 45 years who are not already vaccinated may decide to get the HPV vaccine after speaking with their healthcare provider about their risk for new HPV infections and the possible benefits of vaccination," CDC says.

    HPV vaccination does not replace cervical cancer screening.

    (With inputs from BBC & Al Jazeera.)

    (At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

    Expand

What did the study find?

The results published in the journal The Lancet said that women in their 20s who were got the HPV vaccine between ages of 12 and 13 with a GlaxoSmithKline product called Cervarix, had up to an 87 percent lower risk of developing cervical cancer linked to the virus.

The study estimated that by mid-2019, there were 450 fewer cases of cervical cancer and 17,200 fewer cases of pre-cancers than expected in the vaccinated population.

“We hope that these new results encourage uptake as the success of the vaccination programme relies not only on the efficacy of the vaccine but also the proportion of the population vaccinated,” co-author Kate Soldan of the UK Health Security Agency was quoted as saying by Al Jazeera.

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What is HPV?

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), HPV is the most common viral infection of the reproductive tract. Most sexually active women and men will be infected at some point in their lives and some may be repeatedly infected.

There are more than 100 types of HPV, according to Mayo Clinic. Some types can cause health problems including genital warts and cancers.

Most HPV infections don't lead to cancer. But some types of genital HPV can cause cancer of the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. Other types of cancers, including cancers of the anus, penis, vagina, vulva and back of the throat, have been linked to HPV infection.

How does HPV spread?

According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you can get HPV by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the virus. It is most commonly spread during vaginal or anal sex. HPV can be passed even when an infected person has no signs or symptoms.

You can get HPV, even if you have had sex with only one person, and can develop symptoms years after you have sex with someone who is infected, CDC says.

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How does HPV infection lead to cervical cancer?

Nearly all cervical cancers are caused by HPV infections. Once infected, most people do not develop any noticeable symptoms.

According to WHO, it takes 15 to 20 years for cervical cancer to develop in women with normal immune systems. It can take only five to ten years in women with weakened immune systems, such as those with untreated HIV infection.

Since early cervical cancer doesn't cause symptoms, it's vital that women have regular screening tests.

Getting vaccinated against HPV infection is your best protection from cervical cancer.

Who should get HPV vaccination?

According to WHO, there are currently three vaccines that have been prequalified, all protecting against both HPV 16 and 18, which are known to cause at least 70 percent of cervical cancers. The third vaccine protects against five additional oncogenic HPV types, which cause a further 20 percent of cervical cancers.

The vaccines are more effective if administered before being exposed to the virus. Therefore, WHO recommends to vaccinate girls, aged between 9 and 14 years, when most have not started sexual activity.

Meanwhile, CDC recommends that the HPV vaccine be given to girls and boys between the ages of 11 and 12, and for everyone through age 26 years, if not vaccinated already.

"Vaccination is not recommended for everyone older than age 26 years. However, some adults age 27 through 45 years who are not already vaccinated may decide to get the HPV vaccine after speaking with their healthcare provider about their risk for new HPV infections and the possible benefits of vaccination," CDC says.

HPV vaccination does not replace cervical cancer screening.

(With inputs from BBC & Al Jazeera.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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