The HPV vaccine significantly reduces the risk of developing cervical cancer in women, especially in women who have been immunized at a younger age, a large Swedish study found.
The risk of developing cervical cancer is reduced by 88 per cent in women who have been vaccinated before the age of 17 and by 53 per cent in those vaccinated between the ages of 17 and 30, according to a study of nearly 1.7 million girls and women. published in Thursday’s issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.
The researchers say the study is important because previous studies have shown that the HPV vaccine can protect against human papillomavirus infection, genital warts and precancerous cervical cancer, and there is no solid evidence that the vaccine actually prevents invasive cervical cancer.
“This is the first study to show that HPV vaccination protects against cervical cancer at a population level,”
“The study reassures that HPV vaccination is protective against cervical cancer and that vaccination at a young age is important for good protection,” Sparen said.
Women who were vaccinated as younger girls probably had better protection because they were immunized before being exposed to HPV through sexual activity, the researchers said.
Human papillomaviruses are a group of viruses that cause genital warts and most cases of cervical cancer. HPV can also cause cancer of the vagina, vulva, anus, penis and throat. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that HPV causes nearly 35,000 cancers each year in women and men in the United States.
The study, which uses data from Sweden’s national registry, tracked 1.7 million girls and women aged 10 to 30 between 2006 – the year the HPV vaccine was approved in that country – and 2017. Of them 527,871 received at least one dose of the vaccine during the study, most before the age of 17. Cervical cancer was diagnosed in 19 vaccinated women and 538 unvaccinated women during the study period.
The study is important because it “confirms what we know and also goes a step further,” said Debbie Saslow, managing director of HPV and gynecological cancers at the American Cancer Society.
“We have really strong data showing that HPV vaccination prevents advanced cervical cancer, and all scientists around the world who work in the field of cervical cancer agree that if you prevent advanced precancerous diseases, you prevent cancer. and that this is the accepted marker, “she said. “However, there are some critics and detractors who say, ‘Yes, but show me that it prevents cancer,’ and it does.”
With the new document, “we now have absolute figures and data that say that girls and young women who have been vaccinated have had very strong protection against cervical cancer compared to women who have not been vaccinated.” said Saslow.
The version of the HPV vaccine used in the study was protected against four types of HPV. A newer vaccine currently in use in the United States goes further, protecting against nine types of HPV.
The HPV vaccine is considered most effective when given to adolescents before they are exposed to HPV, and also when they appear to have the strongest immune response to the vaccine. The CDC recommends two doses of the HPV vaccine for all girls and boys between the ages of 11 and 12, but says the vaccine can be given as early as 9 years of age. Those who receive the first dose at age 15 or older need a series of three shots, the CDC says. The vaccine is recommended for everyone under the age of 26 and for some people under the age of 45 after consulting a doctor.