Europe

Older HPV vaccine cuts cervical cancer rate up to 87%, says study

LONDON (REUTERS) – Young women who were vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV) in their teens with an older GlaxoSmithKline product called Cervarix had up to an 87 per cent lower risk of developing cervical cancer linked to the virus, a long-running English study found.

When the vaccinated women were in their 20s, those who had received the series of shots between aged 12 and 13 years had cervical cancer rates that were 87 per cent lower than unvaccinated women who had been screened for the malignancy.

The cancer rate was 62 per cent lower when the shots were given between aged 14 and 16 years and reduced by 34 per cent in women vaccinated between aged 16 and 18 years, researchers reported in The Lancet medical journal.

Rates of a precancerous condition were reduced by 97 per cent when the shots were given at aged 12 and 13 years, the study also found.

The findings “should greatly reassure those still hesitant about the benefits of HPV vaccination”, the researchers said.

The study, funded by Cancer Research UK, looked at registry data from January 2006 to June 2019 on women who had been screened for cervical cancer between aged 20 and 64, including women who received the Cervarix vaccine after it became available in 2008.

During the nearly 13-year period, roughly 28,000 diagnoses of cervical cancer and 300,000 diagnoses of a precancerous condition called cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN3) were recorded in England, data showed.

The young women who were vaccinated had around 450 fewer cases of cervical cancers and 17,200 fewer cases of CIN3 than expected in unvaccinated women of the same age.

“We hope that these new results encourage uptake as the success of the vaccination programme relies not only on the efficacy of the vaccine but also the proportion of the population vaccinated,” said coauthor Kate Soldan of the British Health Security Agency.

Cervarix, developed by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), protects against two HPV types that are responsible for roughly 70-80 per cent of all cervical cancers.

Since September 2012, Merck’s quadrivalent vaccine Gardasil, which protects against four HPV types linked to cervical and head and neck cancers, has been used in England instead of Cervarix.

GSK also stopped selling Cervarix in the United States due low demand with Gardasil dominating the world’s most lucrative market.

Cervical cancer is rare in young women. Follow-up as women grow older is needed to fully assess the vaccines’ impact.

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