UK Research has found that the HPV vaccine can cut cervical cancer rates by 90%. The vaccine is routinely offered to 12 and 13-year-olds in the UK, but those who miss it are still eligible to receive their jab until they turn 25.
In 2019 the UK's immunisation programme was expanded to cover all teenagers. A newer vaccine, Gardasil, was introduced in 2012. It is said by the NHS to protect against nine strains of HPV which cause cervical cancers, as well as genital warts and cancers of the neck, head, anus and genitals.
A study, published in the Lancet, looked at what happened after the vaccine was introduced for girls in England in 2008. Those pupils are now adults in their 20’s. The study showed a reduction in both pre-cancerous growths and an 87% reduction in cervical cancer. The reductions were less dramatic when older teenagers were immunised as part of a catch-up campaign. This is because fewer older teenagers decided to have the jab and they may already have been sexually active. Overall, the study estimated the HPV programme has prevented about 450 cervical cancers and 17,200 pre-cancers.
Currently women who have been vaccinated against HPV still need to be screened for cervical cancer because HPV vaccines do not protect against all HPV types that can cause cancer. Women who have been vaccinated are advised to follow the same screening recommendations as unvaccinated women. There could however be future changes in screening recommendations for vaccinated women.
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