June 24, 2019

Scotland's HPV Vaccination Significantly Reduced Cervical Cancer

06 April 2019, 08:42 | Silvia Roy

The immunisation programme for girls aged 12 and 13 was introduced in 2008 across the UK

The immunisation programme for girls aged 12 and 13 was introduced in 2008 across the UK

However, the researchers believe it "should greatly reduce the incidence of cervical cancer".

Women were given three shots in thighs, one per week. This meant that Scotland obtained screening data for the 2008-09 cohort before the change in screening age.

So a team led by Tim Palmer at the University of Edinburgh made a decision to use this data to measure the impact of routine vaccination of girls with the bivalent HPV vaccine (which targets HPV types 16 and 18) on levels of abnormal cells and cervical lesions (known as cervical intraepithelial neoplasia or CIN).

They found that compared with unvaccinated women born in 1988, vaccinated women born in 1995 and 1996 showed an 89% reduction in CIN grade 3 or worse, an 88% reduction in CIN grade 2 or worse, and a 79% reduction in CIN grade 1. Most importantly, the rate of growths classified as a cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) grade 3 also dropped substantially, by almost 90 per cent. The higher the number, the higher the risk is of developing invasive cancer. Halkitis said it was also known that those living with HIV are more likely to be impacted by HPV infection and HPV-related cancers.

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The high vaccination rate in Scotland also had indirect effects, they found.

The team, led by Dr Tim Palmer at the University of Edinburgh, analysed vaccination and screening records for 138,692 women born between 1988 and 1996 who had a screening test result recorded at age 20. And Scotland's early success story should provide plenty more motivation for other countries to drive up their own local vaccination rates. The study did not look at how this will translate into rates of cervical cancer.

The study - which assessed data from around 140,000 women - found that the vaccine has nearly "wiped out" all cases of cervical pre-cancer in young women.

According to cancer research United Kingdom, virtually all cases of cervical cancer are rooted in an HPV infection, and 3,100 cases are diagnosed each year.

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They said: 'Different modelling approaches have been used to inform optimal scenarios for screening of vaccinated women but have converged on the conclusion that, for some women, two or three screens in a lifetime using HPV testing might be sufficient.

"This shows that rare types of cervical cancer can be effectively prevented through screening", says co-author Professor Pär Sparén at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet, guarantor of the study.

Currently, in the USA, it's estimated there are 12,000 new cases of cervical cancer annually.

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