Cervical cancer: Vaccine appears to significantly reduce risk

A study published on Thursday revealed that the incidence of cervical cancer fell especially among British women who received the vaccine against the infection of the human papillomavirus, which causes these cancers.

“Our study gives the first direct evidence of the effect of vaccination against human papillomavirus (HPV), via the bivalent Cervarix vaccine, on the frequency of cervical cancer,” summarized the authors of this work published in Lancet.

Cervical cancers are often the result of a sexually transmitted infection with the papilloma virus. Since the mid-2000s, vaccines have been available against it.

So many countries have launched a campaign among teens, the idea being to receive the vaccine before engaging in sexual activity. This is the case for France, which this year expanded it to include boys, although the coverage rate remains well below targets.

Until now, the efficacy of vaccines against the infection itself and against the development of precancerous lesions was well known. But the data were less accurate about the frequency of reported cancers.

This is the contribution of the Lancet study. According to its findings, there is a marked decrease in the incidence of cervical cancer among women eligible for the UK vaccination campaign, which was launched in the late 2000s.

This decrease, measured in relation to the proportion of cases in previous generations, is particularly noticeable in women who are likely to have been vaccinated early, at 12 or 13 years of age. In recent years, cervical cancer has almost disappeared there.

These conclusions have limits. Even without vaccination, researchers would expect only a limited number of cancers in this age group, which is only 25 years old today. Therefore, they stress, it will be necessary to continue to study the incidence of cancer there in the coming years.

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In addition, for a long-term follow-up, the study only looked at women who took advantage of the budding British countryside. However, it was at that time that the Cervarix vaccine, which was produced by the GSK laboratory, was used.

It has since been replaced by Merck’s Gardasil from the US, says MSD outside the US, so the study can’t draw any conclusions.

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