Childhood HPV vaccination 'profoundly' cuts cervical disease in young women

Childhood HPV vaccination 'profoundly' cuts cervical disease in young women

By / Health / Thursday, 11 April 2019 01:53

Young women who received human papillomavirus vaccines as adolescents had significantly lower rates of a condition that’s a precursor to cervical cancer, in a nationwide study in Scotland.

One of the most common sexually transmitted diseases, HPV doesn’t cause symptoms and usually goes away on its own. But the virus can cause cancer of the cervix, the fourth most common cancer in women, as well as cancers of the throat and penis.

Palmer’s team studied 138,692 women, about half of whom had been fully vaccinated against HPV either at ages 12-13, or later in their teens. At age 20, the women all had tests to look for abnormal cells on the cervix - called cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, or CIN - that can lead to cancer.

Rates of CIN were low overall. But compared with unvaccinated women, vaccinated women had an 89 percent lower rate of CIN grade 3 or worse , an 88 percent lower rate of CIN grade 2 or worse , and a 79 percent lower rate of CIN grade 1 .“The findings are dramatic and document a considerable reduction in high-grade cervical disease over time,” Julia Brotherton, medical director at VCS Foundation in East Melbourne, Australia, writes in an editorial published with the study.

In the U.S., many girls and boys don’t receive the vaccine at least in part because their parents may question whether it’s necessary to protect them against a sexually transmitted disease at an age when they think children shouldn’t be having sex, previous studies have found.

Scotland, which has an organized national cervical screening program, introduced a national immunization program against HPV in 2008, targeting girls aged 12 and 13, followed by a three-year catch-up program up to age 18.

The study also revealed a decreasing rate of disease in unvaccinated women. “This is called herd protection and is a function of the high uptake of vaccine in Scotland,” Palmer explained. Unvaccinated women are being protected because the spread of HPV between men and women has been interrupted because there are not enough susceptible women, he said.

There were an estimated 570,000 new cervical cancer cases globally in 2018, representing 6.6 percent of all female cancers, according to the World Health Organization, with about 90 percent of deaths from cervical cancer occurring in low- and middle-income countries.

Author

Hum Hindustani

Hum Hindustani

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