The success of the HPV vaccination offers hope of one day eradicating cervical cancer, say scientists who carried out a major review of evidence.
Vaccination against the human papilloma virus, which causes most cervical cancers, began over a decade ago.
A Lancet review of 65 studies covering 60 million people showed a fall in HPV cases and in pre-cancerous growths.
Over decades, this should translate into a significant fall, and possible eradication, of the cancer they said.
The review covered studies in 14 high-income countries, including the UK. They looked at HPV rates, plus cases of genital warts and pre-cancerous cells in the cervix called CIN.
It found that when rates were compared before vaccination started and eight years after:
- Cases of HPV 16 and 18 were down 83% in girls aged 15-19 – 66% in women 20-24
- Genital warts cases fell 67% in girls 15-19 – 54% in women 20-24
- Pre-cancerous growths were down by 51% in girls 15-19 – 31% in women 20-24
It also showed people who were not vaccinated benefited. Cases of genital warts in boys aged 15-19 fell by almost 50%, and also significantly in women over 30.
[Researcher Marc Brisson] said cervical cancer elimination – defined as fewer than four cases per 100,000 – “might be possible if sufficiently high vaccination coverage can be achieved and maintained”.
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