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HPV Vaccine Success Story

The HPV vaccine has been amazingly successful in reducing cases of cervical cancer. Researchers in the UK recently  reported that there are 87% fewer cervical cancers among women who were part of the first mass vaccination program against human papillomavirus (HPV), compared to women of previous generations. A vaccine success story!

Initially the vaccine Cervarix was administered in the HPV vaccination program, which started in 2008 in England. The Cervarix vaccine is effective against HPV 16 and 18, the strains which are responsible for 70% to 80% of all cervical cancers. In 2012 they switched to the HPV vaccine Gardasil, which is effective against two additional HPV types - HPV 6 and 11.

Researchers looked at the incidence of both cervical cancer and noninvasive cervical carcinoma (grade 3 cervical intraepithelial neoplasia or CIN3, which frequently progresses to cancer) in England between January 2006 and June 2019.

They found that girls who received the vaccine between 12 to 13 years of age had a cervical  cancer rate 87% lower than expected in a nonvaccinated population, and the rate of noninvasive cervical carcinoma (CIN3) was 97% lower than expected. Those who were vaccinated between the ages of 14 and 16 years had a 62% reduction in cervical cancer and 75% for CIN3. Those vaccinated between the ages of 16 and 18 years had a 34% reduction in cervical cancer and 39% in CIN3.

The authors point out that this is still a developing story - that since the women are still relatively young, we don't know the full impact of the HPV vaccination on cervical cancer rates. But they expect it to be impressive over time.

Excerpts from Medscape: Success of HPV Vaccination: 'Dramatic' Reduction in Cervical Cancer

New data from England show the success of the national program for vaccinating girls against human papillomavirus (HPV) to prevent cervical cancer. 

Among young women who received the HPV vaccine when they were 12 or 13 years old (before their sexual debut), cervical cancer rates are 87% lower than among previous nonvaccinated generations.

"It's been incredible to see the impact of HPV vaccination, and now we can prove it prevented hundreds of women from developing cancer in England," senior author Peter Sasieni, MD, King's College London, London, United Kingdom, said in a statement. "To see the real-life impact of the vaccine has been truly rewarding," he added

Approached for comment on the new study, Maurice Markman, MD, president, Medicine and Science Cancer Treatment Centers of America, noted that the results of the English study are very similar to those of a Swedish study of the quadrivalent vaccine alone.

"I can only emphasize the critical importance of all parents to see that their children who are eligible for the vaccine receive it. This is a cancer prevention strategy that is unbelievably, remarkably effective and safe," Markman added.

The national HPV vaccination program in England began in 2008. Initially, the bivalent Cervarix vaccine against HPV 16 and 18 was used. HPV 16 and 18 are responsible for 70% to 80% of all cervical cancers in England, the researchers note in their article. In 2012, the program switched to the quadrivalent HPV vaccine (Gardasil), which is effective against two additional HPV types, HPV 6 and 11. Those strains cause genital warts.

Among the cohort eligible for vaccination at 12 to 13 years of age, 89% received at least one dose of the HPV vaccine; 85% received three shots and were fully vaccinated. Among these persons, the rate of cervical cancer was 87% lower than expected in a nonvaccinated population, and the rate of CIN3 was 97% lower than expected.

For the cohort that was eligible to be vaccinated between the ages of 14 and 16 years, the corresponding reductions were 62% for cervical cancer and 75% for CIN3. For the cohort eligible for vaccination between the ages of 16 and 18 years (of whom 60% had received at least one dose and 45% were fully vaccinated), the corresponding reduction were 34% for cervical cancer and 39% for CIN3.

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