The HPV vaccine’s “remarkable” success has almost eliminated cervical cancer in young women, according to a major study.
The NHS vaccine program has led to a drop in cases of the disease by 87 percent.
Among women now in their twenties — the first generation to get the jab — cases have now dropped from about 50 per year to just five.
King’s College London’s historic findings today prove that the HPV vaccine is saving people’s lives.
The HPV vaccine protects against infection by human papillomavirus (a common group of viruses that is responsible for 90% of cervical cancer cases).
It has been made available to girls between 12 and 13 years old in the UK, and was also made available to boys from 2019 onwards. HPV can cause cancer in men and women can also be affected by the virus via sexual contact.
Although immunization among girls may have protected a large number of boys, the introduction of the vaccine for boys will guarantee protection for all.
Every year, more than three hundred cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed in Britain.
The HPV vaccine could be used to eradicate the disease in younger people, according to a study. Charity representatives said the findings would make it a ‘rare disease’ that will soon disappear.
KCL researchers stated previously that they expect to eliminate cervical cancer completely within 80-years.
The Lancet published research that showed cervical cancer rates in women who received the vaccine in years 8 and 9. The rates of cervical cancer in women who received the vaccine in years 10 and 11 were 62% lower than those who received it in years 12 or 13.
It provides the first proof the NHS vaccination programme — launched for teenage girls in 2008 — is saving lives. A new HPV vaccine, Gardasil — which offers an even higher level of protection — is now being used for the HPV programme in schools
The Lancet published research that showed cervical cancer rates in women who received the vaccine at the age of 12 and 13 were 87 percent lower than in those who did not receive it.
This age group also saw a 97% drop in pre-cancerous cells, or cervical carcinomas.
Women who had the vaccine between 14-16 had lower rates of cervical carcinoma than women who had it 16-18.
Experts estimated that the first four years of the vaccination programme — between 2008 and 2012 — had led to around 450 fewer cases of cervical cancer and 17,200 fewer cases of cervical carcinomas.
Professor Peter Sasieni, the lead researcher of the study, stated: “It’s been amazing to see how HPV vaccination has affected women and now we can show it prevented hundreds from developing cancer in England.
“We have known for many years that HPV vaccine is very effective in preventing certain strains of the virus. But to see the real-life effects of the vaccine has been truly rewarding.
“Cervical cancer will be rare if most people continue to get the HPV vaccination and have their screenings.
“This year, we’ve already seen vaccines’ power in controlling Covid. These data prove that vaccination is effective in preventing certain cancers.
Dr Vanessa Saliba is a consultant epidemiologist at the UK Health Security Agency. She said that the remarkable findings prove that the HPV vaccine saves lives and dramatically reduces cervical cancer rates in women.
We encourage all those who are eligible to get the HPV vaccination to do so when it is offered in schools. All who are eligible can receive the HPV vaccine until their 25th Birthday.
Michelle Mitchell, chief executive at Cancer Research UK, said that results such as these demonstrate the power of science.
“It’s historic to see the first study showing HPV vaccine protects thousands of women from cervical cancer.
HPV – human papillomaviruses – are extremely common and nearly always harmless, but have been proven to cause certain types of cancer in some people.
The viruses could be responsible for cancers in the genitals, reproductive systems, and rectum, as well as the throat and mouth.
In 2008, the NHS HPV vaccination program in schools began. The jab was offered only to girls. It was believed that boys would be protected indirectly by herd immunity.
But the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which advises the UK on vaccines, decided the HPV jab should also be offered to boys for free.
A new HPV vaccine, Gardasil — which offers an even higher level of protection — is now being used for the HPV programme in schools.
Samantha Dixon, chief executive, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust: “It is incredibly encouraging to see concrete evidence of the HPV vaccine’s success in reducing cervical cancer diagnoses.
“Even more encouraging is the fact that Gardasil 9 will be used in schools during 2021-22, which provides an even greater level of protection.
“We are really on the road to making cervical cancer a thing past.”
“We cannot afford to be complacent. We must continue to work to ensure that every child has the chance to get their vaccine, especially since Covid continues to impact programme delivery.
‘No vaccine is 100% effective. Cervical screening remains an important test.
A report published in February 2019 predicted that the cancer cases would be cut in half by 2050 and eradicated completely by 2100.
The most recent study examined data from the cancer registry between January 2006 to June 2019, for seven groups comprising women between 20 and 64 years of age at the end.
The study also included the National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service, (NCRAS), run by NHS Digital.