Hopes raised for cervical cancer eradication

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The success of the HPV vaccination offers hope of one day eradicating cervical cancer, say scientists who carried out a major review of evidence. Vaccination against the human papilloma virus, which causes most cervical cancers, began over a decade ago. A Lancet review of 65 studies covering 60 million people showed a fall in HPV cases and in pre-cancerous growths. Over decades, this should translate into a significant fall, and possible eradication, of the cancer they said. Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust said the data should boost faith in the jab. There are 3,200 cases of cervical cancer and 850 deaths from the disease each year.The review covered studies in 14 high-income countries, including the UK. They looked at HPV rates, plus cases of genital warts and pre-cancerous cells in the cervix called CIN.It also showed people who were not vaccinated benefited. Cases of genital warts in men aged 15-19 fell by almost 50%, and also significantly in women over 30. Rates fell more in countries where a wider age group was vaccinated and where coverage was higher.

Public Health England principal scientist Dr David Mesher said: “We are seeing reductions in HPV strains and in cervical disease as well, so there is every suggestion there will be reductions in cervical cancers too.” Prof Marc Brisson, from Laval University, Canada, who led the review, said: “We will see reductions in women aged 20-30 within the next 10 years.” He said cervical cancer elimination defined as fewer than four cases per 100,000 “might be possible if sufficiently high vaccination coverage can be achieved and maintained”. Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust said the findings “clearly showed” the impact of HPV vaccination. “This study furthers the growing evidence to counteract those who don’t believe that this vaccine works, which is now extremely encouraging,” said chief executive Robert Music. “We sincerely hope this will boost public faith in the HPV vaccine, so that more lives can be saved and we get closer to a world where cervical cancer is a thing of the past.”

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