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HPV Vaccine Cutting Cervical Cancer By Nearly 90%

According to the first real-world data, the human papillomaavirus vaccine is cutting cervical cancer cases by nearly 90%.

The findings, according to Cancer Research UK, are “historic” because they show the vaccine is saving lives.

It is anticipated that vaccination will almost eliminate cervical cancer, which is nearly all caused by viruses.

Researchers said the vaccine could eliminate the need for a lot of cervical smear tests for those who had been vaccinated.

More than 300,000 women die each year from cervical cancer, making it the fourth most common cancer among women.

More so, nearly nine out of ten cervical cancer deaths occur in countries with low and middle incomes, which are less likely to provide cervical cancer screening.

These countries are hoped to benefit more from vaccination than wealthier nations, such as the UK.

Furthermore, World Health Organization plans to eliminate cervical cancer by enabling the use of the
the vaccine in more than 100 countries.

Depending on where they live, girls in the UK can receive the vaccine between 11 and 13 years.

Since 2019, boys had been eligible to receive the vaccine.

It is important to note that once an infection has occurred, the vaccine cannot rid the body of the virus, it can only be used to prevent it from occurring.

Vaccinating children before they become sexually active is necessary because the viruses are so widespread.

An English study published in The Lancet investigated what happened after vaccinations for girls began in 2008.

Female adults in their 20s today are now those former pupils.

Researchers further discovered a reduction in precancerous growths and an 87% reduction in cervical cancer in the study.

Professor Peter Sasieni of King’s College London described it as, “The impact has been huge.

Immunizing older teenagers as part of a catch-up campaign resulted in a lesser reduction.

Because older teenagers were fewer and already sexually active, fewer of them chose to get the vaccine.

It was estimated that HPV had prevented 450 cancers and 17,200 pre-cancers, according to the study.

Prof Sasieni later asserted the vaccine effectiveness as “just the tip of the iceberg.”

The numbers would only grow over time since those vaccinated were still too young to get cancer.

‘I told them to save me for my children’

A routine smear test revealed that Laura Flaherty had cervical cancer:

“It came out of nowhere,” she said. “I had no symptoms.”

The smear test that Laura Flaherty had avoided numerous times, which she eventually took at 29, showed in a diagnosis that she had cervical cancer.

“The HPV vaccine hadn’t been rolled out when I was at school,” she said.

“I was diagnosed after a routine smear test. I’d put it off for four months – and while it wouldn’t have made a difference to my diagnosis – it just shows how important it is to keep up to date with your smears.

“I was told I had abnormal cells and tested positive for HPV and further investigation revealed I had stage one cervical cancer, which resulted in a hysterectomy.

“I was sat in a room and told: ‘I’m really sorry, it’s cancer’. I had two small children and I said ‘I need you to save me, they need looking after’.

“I went for my smear test in February this year and was given the all clear in August. I just always feel so lucky to be here.”

Approximately every three to five years, women are asked to undergo a smear test to screen for cervical cancer.

Prof Sasieni, however, asserted that a rethink was “definitely” required after these results.

According to him: “It should be a wake-up call to policy-makers, women will read this and think ‘why should I go for screening?’

“I would hope we’d come back with a new screening programme, two to three times a lifetime, and continue screening women who have not been vaccinated.”

A final decision has not been made on HPV vaccination.

It remains unclear whether mid-life boosters are necessary and how long protection lasts.

Human papillomavirus, meanwhile, is varied over 100 types.

Currently, the UK uses a vaccine that protects against two viruses and there are plans to launch a new one that will protect against nine viruses, which includes genital wart-causing viruses.

Viruses that cause cancer cause DNA changes in infected cells that turn them into cancerous cells.

They can be transmitted via vaginal, oral, and anal sex, as well as the anus, penis, and certain cancers of the head and neck.

The human papillomavirus is responsible for 99% of cervical cancers.

Consultant epidemiologist Vanessa Saliba of the Health Security Agency of the UK says the results are “remarkable” and demonstrate the vaccine “saves lives by dramatically reducing cervical cancer rates among women”.

Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, Michelle Mitchell, said: “It’s a historic moment to see the first study showing that the HPV vaccine has and will continue to protect thousands of women from developing cervical cancer.”

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