A recent study found that the human papillomavirus vaccine reduced the rate of cervical cancer by 87% for women who received it between the ages of 12 and 13.
The British study, published in The Lancet, shows that vaccination can help prevent cervical cancer.
What is HPV?
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the US, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly all sexually active adults will contract the virus at some point in their lives.
HPV often goes away on its own. In some cases, it can lead to a number of important health problems, such as genital warts and various cancers. According to the World Health Organization, it can take 15 to 20 years for cervical cancer to develop in women with normal immune systems.
Nearly all cases of cervical cancer are linked to HPV.
With HPV-related cervical cancer affecting nearly half a million women worldwide each year, more than 100 countries recommend HPV vaccinations for girls.
Some countries have started vaccinating boys because HPV vaccination prevents genital cancers in men and women, and two available vaccines — including the vaccine administered in the United States, Gardasil 9 — also prevent genital warts in men and women, it said. the WHO.
“By administering the vaccine to both boys and girls, we significantly reduce the risk of all of these cancers,” said Dr. Maria Bell, a Sanford Health specialist in treating women’s cancer.
A vaccine-preventable cancer
The data for the study came from a population register for cancer in the United Kingdom. Scientists from Cancer Research UK analyzed the rate of cervical cancer in women who had been vaccinated with Cervarix, an HPV vaccine such as Gardasil 9, and in women who had not been vaccinated. Gardasil 9 includes an additional four HPV infection types (6, 11, 16, and 18).
They found that women who received the vaccine between the ages of 12 and 13 experienced the largest reduction in cervical cancer rates, at 87%. Those who received it between the ages of 14 and 16 experienced a 62% reduction, and those aged 16 to 18 had a 34% reduction.
“This is a follow-up study showing that the vaccine prevented 87% of cervical cancers — which is what it was designed for,” said Dr. bell.
The study followed an HPV vaccination program that began in 2008. The program confirmed that it was most effective in preventing cancer and precancerous problems when given to young pre-teens and teens, and it has successfully nearly eliminated cervical cancer in women born since September 1. , 1995.
“This vaccine prevents cancer,” said Andrea Polkinghorn, Sanford Health’s immunization strategy leader. “How cool is that?”
Sanford Health Experts Recommend Vaccine
According to the CDC, by 2020, 54% of teens had been fully vaccinated against HPV.
Sanford Health recommends early HPV vaccination to protect children before they are ever exposed.
“What’s compelling is the estimated reduction in cervical cancer rates by age,” Polkinghorn said. “That means when it’s administered younger, there’s a greater reduction in the potential to develop cervical cancer.”
Those 9-14 years old should receive two doses of the vaccine, while those over 15 years old and those who are immunocompromised (9-26 years old) should receive three doses over a 6-month period.
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